November 6, 2015 - San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org – Hat tip to Steven Emerson and the folks at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for making available an important new 50 plus page study [prepared by Dr. Raz Zamit, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center] detailing the activities of Qasem Soleimani who leads Iran’s QUDS/QODS Force, considered the elite cutting edge of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC].
“The Qods Force was established in 1990 as an organized, operational framework for the extensive activities Iran conducts to export the Islamic Revolution to other countries.” [source, study, p. 1]
Soleimani has run the Quds operation since the late 1990’s and is the face of the Iranian effort to promote the revolutionary ideology of Shia Islam throughout the ME [targeting its Sunni majority] and indeed the world.
Soleimani was instrumental in coordinating the Iranian funded and trained Shia militias during the United States’ Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign and is now responsible for leading the Ayatollocracy’s efforts in support of Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad as various stripes of Sunni jihadists try to destabilize this key Iranian buffer state.
Though quite successful, from the standpoint of creating thousands of additional casualties among U.S. troops [many of which were killed or seriously wounded by Iranian IEDs] serving in Iraq, his Syrian operation has run into difficulties, especially in its ground campaign:
“The Syrian regime's strategic distress is forcing the Qods Force, under Soleimani's command, to concentrate its efforts to help the Syrian army repel the rebels in northwestern Syria (in the regions of Homs, Hama, Idlib and Aleppo), with Russian aerial support. So far the Syrian offensive has had difficulties and IRGC fighters in the front lines have suffered serious losses (more than thirty dead, among them three senior officers with the rank of colonel or brigadier general).” [p. 5]
“The Qods Force, commanded by Qasem Soleimani, has been in the forefront of Iran's effort to prevent the fall of Damascus and other strategic strongholds, and the collapse of the Syrian regime. Iran provided Syria with weapons, strategic guidance and military advisors, and sent Hezbollah and Shi'ite foreign fighters (primarily from Iraq and Afghanistan) to active duty in Syrian territory.” [p. 12]
To a very large degree it is Soleimani who is responsible for bringing Russia into the Syrian conflict via his direct negotiation with Vlad Putin
“In...August 2015 Fox News reported that during a visit to Moscow Soleimani met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In retrospect it would seem that the meeting focused on expanding Russian-Iranian security and political collaboration in the Syrian arena during the months before the beginning of the Russian aerial attacks in Syria.” [p. 17]
At the time Soleimani was barred by international law from travelling outside of Iran, having been declared a terrorist in an October of 2011 U.S. Treasury Dept. finding because of his involvement in an Iranian plot [he ran the operation] to assassinate the Saudi ambassador while he was on official business in DC.
“As IRGC-QF Commander, Qasem Soleimani oversees the IRGC-QF officers who were involved in this plot. Soleimani was previously designated by the Treasury Department under E.O. 13382 based on his relationship to the IRGC. He was also designated in May 2011 pursuant to E.O. 13572, which targets human rights abuses in Syria, for his role as the Commander of the IRGC-QF, the primary conduit for Iran's support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate (GID).” [source, Treasury Sanctions Five Individuals Tied to Iranian Plot to Assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States , U.S. Treasury Dept.]
Of note, this designation was well in advance the Obama administration’s [P5+1] Iranian nuke deal and should have provided more than ample reason to reject the agreement out of hand because of Iran’s brazen defiance of the already extant rules governing its behavior.
Soleimani is not on good terms with Iraq’s current president Abadi and thus is seen as a major irritant in efforts for Iraq and Iran to maintain something of a united front against ISIS.
“Al-Abadi strongly criticized Soleimani, asking if he was speaking on behalf of the Iranian government or expressing his own personal opinions. Soleimani told him that he was speaking as the advisor to the popular Iraqi militias. Al-Abadi answered that he himself made decisions that expressed the will of the Iraqi people and the Shi'ite religious leadership in Najaf. He said there was no justification for Soleimani's presence at the meeting, at which point Soleimani left.” [p. 27]
Though seen as a more than effective fighter, a “man of deeds,” rather than words, Soleimani holds such sway within Iran’s complex governing structure that he’s also developed a strong backlash, with some feeling that he is advancing himself politically having established a cult of personality as the vehicle.
Dr. Zamit’s study concludes with the observation that regardless of the path Soleimani chooses, military, political or some mixture of both:
“[his] extensive experience and proven talent in advancing Iranian interests in the Middle East ensure he will continue playing a key role in the turmoil which is certain to plague the Middle East in the coming years. Whether or not he remains in the Qods Force or enters national politics, he can be expected to continue as an important player in the Iranian leadership and as a key figure in Iran's regional politics.” [p. 56-57]
The P5+1 group is mired in confusion with little prospect – absent strong future American leadership - of ever being able to effectively deal with Iranian ambitions. Obama and his European cohorts’ failure to check the terrorist state’s aggressive and expansionist foreign policy means that Qasem Soleimani will remain a valuable asset as long as he continues to find favor with the Ayatollahs who run the country.
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