Analysis: Iranian spymaster a major player in Iraq

Suleimani

Qassem Suleimani

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Newsweek’s Chris Dickey has penned an accurate analysis on Qassem Suleimani, leader of the mighty Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) unit tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. Relatively little is known about Suleimani, a soft-spoken intelligence operative who oversees Iran’s links with Shiite movements in the Middle East and beyond. His influence inside Iraq has grown in recent years. Although the Quds Force intelligence network in Iraq was solid before the 2003 US invasion, the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime turned Suleimani’s agency to what is probably the most powerful organized intelligence force in the country. Indeed, Suleimani’s links with the Kurdish north and with the Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq is so encompassing that, as Dickey correctly notes, “this 53-year-old Iranian general could pull the strings that make or break the new government in Baghdad”. At the same time, however, the internal political unrest in Iran, which followed last year’s elections, is distracting the Quds Force –and the IRGC as a whole– from Iraq, and is forcing intelligence players like Qassem Suleimani to concentrate on internal matters. Some in Washington interpret this as a positive development for the overall US military and diplomatic presence in Iran. But this is not necessarily so, as an uncontrollable Shiite insurgency in Iraq could actually be more unpredictable than one that is ultimately accountable to a state actor like Iran.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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