Iran’s ‘shadow commander’ Major General Qassem Suleimani steps into the light

The Atlantic reports: On October 16, Iran’s Fars news agency proclaimed the “magnificent role of General Suleimani in the fight against the terrorists of Daesh,” using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

Fars, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, boasted that The Guardian had noted the role of Major General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force — the branch of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for overseas operations — in combating Islamic State militants.

“According to this publication,” Fars enthused, “General Suleimani is playing a key role in the fight against the Islamic State group.”

It is no coincidence that Fars dedicated a whole news article to the fact that an “English newspaper” had commented on Suleimani’s presence in Iraq. Iran has made a concerted effort in recent weeks to show the world that Suleimani — and by extension, the Quds Force — is bolstering Shiite militias against ISIS.

Numerous photographs have circulated on social media and in Iran’s state press showing Suleimani in Iraq and Syria. They are notable largely because until now, Suleimani has been an elusive figure, a subject of great media interest and speculation but also great secrecy. Suleimani’s name has appeared frequently in the Western press, but usually accompanied by the description “shadowy,” as in “shadowy figure,” or even “Shadow Commander.”

Yet this month, the hitherto rarely glimpsed Suleimani has been snapped in Irbil, grinning with Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters; meeting with a top Shiite commander, Mohammad Kazmi, at the Quds Force headquarters in Iraq; and hanging out with Shiite militias while wearing a reversed baseball cap and Palestinian keffiyeh: [Continue reading…]

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