Tuesday, Feb. 7th 2012

Qassem Suleimani In Syria Helping Regime Stay in Power

General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, is assisting the regime of Bashar Assad by helping manage the Syrian forces, according to a report by Zvi Bar’el at Haaretz.com. The presence of Suleimani in the Syrian military’s command center from which Assad’s forces attack “opposition forces” underscores the importance the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s regime attaches to holding on to Syria as an ally and conduit to Lebanon.

After all, the “liberation” of Zabadani, a Syrian city unfamiliar to many, may not mean much to most Westerners but the IRGC recalls that Zabadani was the jumping off point for the  Revolutionary Guard’s deployment to Lebanon in 1982. The Guard later moved David Dodge, the president of American University of Beirut kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1983, through Zabadani on his way to Tehran. No, having Zabadani in hostile hands just doesn’t suit the IRGC.

Suleimani has received a lot of press lately. Ali Alfoneh of the AEI published an excellent piece on the Quds Force deputy commander, Esmail Qaani, in which Alfoneh speculated that Qaani may replace Suleimani as the Quds Force commander if (when?) Suleimani pursues a political career in anticipation of the 2013 Iranian presidential election. Then Suleimani spent a week or more in the headlines of Middle East papers such as Beirut’s Daily Star as politicians from Iraq and Lebanon complained of comments Suleimani made that suggested southern Lebanon was under Iran’s influence similar to what exists in Iraq.

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