Photo: Jihad Mughniyeh (Son of former Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh) behind Qassem Suleimani in a recent public event (funeral of Suleimani’s mother).Follow @TheZako
A recent outstanding piece in The New Yorker by the respected Dexter Filkins, which I have just managed to read due to its length, has focused the attention again on Qassem Suleimani the Head of the Iranian Quds Force.
Suleimani is described as the most powerful operative in the Middle East. With his lead of the Quds Force, he is responsible for the “special operations” of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In other words, shaping, if not leading the Iranian foreign policy on the ground.
In our immediate regional vicinity, that means he is the architect of Hezbollah in Lebanon (and beyond), the maestro of the post-war Iraqi chaos with the US and more recently the implementer of the Iranian backup to Syria’s Assad regime in crushing the 2011 peaceful protests, then their involvement in the follow-on civil war.
What is fascinating in “The Shadow Commander” among other tips is its reveal of the American contacts with hardliner Qassem Suleimani on many occasions mainly on Afghanistan and Iraq:
In the chaotic days after the attacks of September 11th, Ryan Crocker, then a senior State Department official, flew discreetly to Geneva to meet a group of Iranian diplomats. “I’d fly out on a Friday and then back on Sunday, so nobody in the office knew where I’d been,” Crocker told me. “We’d stay up all night in those meetings.” It seemed clear to Crocker that the Iranians were answering to Suleimani, whom they referred to as “Haji Qassem,” and that they were eager to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban.
Before the bombing began, Crocker sensed that the Iranians were growing impatient with the Bush Administration, thinking that it was taking too long to attack the Taliban. At a meeting in early October, 2001, the lead Iranian negotiator stood up and slammed a sheaf of papers on the table. “If you guys don’t stop building these fairy-tale governments in the sky, and actually start doing some shooting on the ground, none of this is ever going to happen!” he shouted. “When you’re ready to talk about serious fighting, you know where to find me.” He stomped out of the room. “It was a great moment,” Crocker said.
The coöperation between the two countries lasted through the initial phase of the war. At one point, the lead negotiator handed Crocker a map detailing the disposition of Taliban forces. “Here’s our advice: hit them here first, and then hit them over here. And here’s the logic.” Stunned, Crocker asked, “Can I take notes?” The negotiator replied, “You can keep the map.” The flow of information went both ways. On one occasion, Crocker said, he gave his counterparts the location of an Al Qaeda facilitator living in the eastern city of Mashhad. The Iranians detained him and brought him to Afghanistan’s new leaders, who, Crocker believes, turned him over to the U.S. The negotiator told Crocker, “Haji Qassem is very pleased with our coöperation.”
Ah well, so despite their current stand of opposing any attacks on Syria’s Assad under fighting imperialism and The Great Satan banners, it looks like that hardline Iran can talk to the Satan and mutually plan attacks and invasions of other countries with them when it suits them.
The myth of “Iranian resistance” to the US not only shows on Afghanistan, but also on Iraq when they actually did not stop or resist the invasion:
After the (Iraq) invasion began, in March, 2003, Iranian officials were frantic to let the Americans know that they wanted peace. Many of them watched the regimes topple in Afghanistan and Iraq and were convinced that they were next. “They were scared shitless,” Maguire, the former C.I.A. officer in Baghdad, told me. “They were sending runners across the border to our élite elements saying, ‘Look, we don’t want any trouble with you.’
In a speech in 1990, current Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the mission of the Quds Force is to “establish popular Hezbollah cells all over the world.” The men of Hezbollah might be genuine in their belief of their cause, but they should know that their martyrdom blood was and will be traded on every possible opportunity; Iran did that in Afghanistan and Iraq, and probably will do that again with the nuclear file.
Let’s not forget that when Imad Mughniyeh was leading the 1980s kidnappings in Beirut for his own cause, Iran got paid for the hostages with Israeli weapons. Pity who die for cheap.