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Dutch Envoy Recalled from Iran, as Diplomatic Spat with Europe over Assassinations Escalates

The Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands announced Monday that it had recalled the country’s ambassador to Iran for “consultations” after the Islamic Republic expelled two diplomats from the Dutch embassy amid escalating tensions between the two nations over an alleged plot to assassinate regime opponents, Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty reported [1].

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok informed lawmakers in a letter that he told the Iranian ambassador that the expulsions last month were “unacceptable” and “negative for the bilateral relationship.” Blok asserted that the move was a response to the Netherlands’ expulsion of two Iranian officials in June 2018 “due to strong indications from (Dutch intelligence) that Iran has been involved in the liquidations on Dutch territory of two Dutch people of Iranian origin.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi confirmed the expulsion of the Dutch diplomats in what he called a “retaliatory” move. “Two of the diplomats of the Netherlands embassy in Tehran were considered undesirable elements in the framework of a retaliatory measure,” Qasemi said on the ministry’s Telegram channel.

In January, the Dutch government revealed [2] that Iran hired criminal hitmen to assassinate two Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands. The two Iranians murdered in the Netherlands were Ahmad Mola Nissi, gunned down in the Hague in November 2017 by a man who emerged from a BMW and shot him at his front door, and Mohammad-Reza Kolahi Samadi, murdered in the city of Almere in December 2015 under similar circumstances.

Iran is suspected of having hired local Dutch gangsters to carry out both killings as a way of concealing the political motive behind the assassinations. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization, is involved in the global drug trade and officials believe they may have facilitated connections with Dutch criminals.

In October, the Danish government started pushing [3] for sanctions after it was reported that an Iranian suspect had been arrested for attempting to assassinate an opposition figure in Denmark.

Four people were arrested [4] in connection with an Iranian-led bomb plot against an Iranian opposition group in Paris this past summer. One of those arrested was an Iranian diplomat, who was captured in Germany.

On January 8, the European Union announced [5] that it would place a unit of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and two of its agents under sanctions for attempted terror plots on European soil.

[Photo: Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken / Flickr ]