Monday, March 13, 2017


He is well-known as the Middle East’s deadliest and Iran’s most dangerous man. He prioritizes offensive tactics and operations over defensive ones, and rejoices in taking overconfident selfies with his troops and proxies in battlefields in many countries, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

When it comes to authority, he is Iran’s second man after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Being a staunchly loyal confidante to Khamenei, Qassem Soleimani has great influence over foreign policy.

By exploiting Iran’s 1979 revolution, and by proving his loyalty and determination to advance its revolutionary principles by any means — including brute force or war — Soleimani rose from being a construction worker in Kerman to his current position in a short period of time. For nearly two decades, he has been the head of Iran’s Quds Force.

He was previously sanctioned by the US, Switzerland and the UN Security Council via Resolution 1747. The US formerly designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism. He was also on America’s Specially Designated Global Terrorists list.

Despite all this, and although his actions qualify him to be among the world’s top global terrorists, Soleimani is operating freely, violating sanctions and traveling.

More importantly, he is more powerful than ever.

The Quds Force is a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It is the most important military and revolutionary organization, and is officially tasked with exporting Iran’s ideological, religious and revolutionary principles beyond the country’s borders.

Soleimani is in charge of extraterritorial operations, including organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing predominantly Shiite militia groups; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran’s ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and powerful Iranian dissidents worldwide.

Under his leadership, the Quds Force has been accused of failed plans to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the US, and to assassinate then-Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir. An investigation revealed that the Quds Force was also behind the assassination of Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Quds Force fomented unrest in Iraq, providing deadly, sophisticated bombs such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that killed many civilians and non-civilians, including Iraqis and Americans.

Soleimani rules over roughly 20,000 Quds Force members. However, it can also use forces from the IRGC and Basij in case of emergencies. In addition, Soleimani technically commands fighters from militias that Iran supports and helped create. He also hires fighters from many countries, including Afghanistan, to fight as proxies.

So in actuality, Soleimani commands at least 150,000 militants, many designated as terrorists and belonging to designated terrorist groups. This is why Iran has been repeatedly ranked as the top state sponsor of terrorism by the US State Department

In almost every country and conflict in the region, Soleimani appears to play a destabilizing role in order to advance Tehran’s hegemonic and ideological interests, and to tip the regional balance of power in its favor.

He and the Quds Force have infiltrated top security, political, intelligence and military infrastructures in several nations, including Syria and Iraq.

While some Iranian politicians believe their country should wield power via its ideology, Soleimani thinks it should spread its ideology via hard power. His strategies and military tactics include influencing the sociopolitical and socioeconomic processes of Arab countries via the Quds Force by supporting and assisting in establishing militias in several countries.

Soleimani does not just seek to take military control or increase Tehran’s influence in Arab countries. His other fundamental objective is to spread the revolutionary ideologies of Iran and the supreme leader via military interventions, scuttling US and Israeli policies in the region, and damaging the national security of other regional powers.

From his perspective, this ideological objective can be best achieved by making alliances and strengthening militia or terrorist groups across the region.