Iran’s Suleimani, America’s biggest Middle East challenge

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With tensions running very high between Washington and Tehran, Donald Trump‘s national security advisor, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster, is now targeting Iranian spymaster Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Al Quds Force, the covert operations wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, or Pasdarans), as a major enemy of the US administration. McMaster, who was one of the main speakers at the annual conference of the defense think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS), on June 28, drew attention to Suleimani’s strategy in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

Suleimani’s aim is to install “weak Arab governments that are dependent on Iran for support, while Iran grows militias and illegal armed groups … that can be turned against those governments if those governments take action against Iranian interests” McMaster said. His analysis is close to those of Gulf leaders, indicating that the White House keeps getting closer to the point of view of the region’s Sunni leaders (IOL 785).

About 80 percent of the effective fighters in Syria are Iranian proxy militias,” he said, adding that Iran had recently equipped its proxies in Yemen and elsewhere “with more destructive weapons, especially rockets and missiles.”

According to McMaster, Suleimani operates “largely outside” the control of Iran’s civilian government.