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Suleimani: The man spearheading Iran's foreign policy

Suleimani: The man spearheading Iran's foreign policy
General Qassem Suleimani, dubbed the “Darth Vader of the Middle East”, is a fervent believer in the ideals of the Islamic revolution who rose from working class roots to lead Iran's secretive and elite Quds force. A groundbreaking BBC documentary will this week show how his fingerprints have been on every major Iranian regional incursion, from organising Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s to leading Iranian policy in Iraq and now Syria. British forces based in Basra soon came to feel the brunt of his efforts to arm Shia militia in a bid to prevent Iraq from becoming stabilised in the aftermath of the 2003 war, the Express reported on Monday.

Measures included arming jihadis with “new and devastating EFPs - Explosively Formed Projectiles.”

“Most people hit by EFP will die because injury is catastrophic  People were literally torn to shreds,” said Brigadier Gareth Collett, who commanded the effort to trace their origins, called Task Force Troy.
“We knew Iraq didn't have the technology to design them itself, So the intellectual property and the means of creating an EFP to devastating effect was coming from Iran. This was backed up by the numbering and lettering of packages that we sae as found them in caches.”
Gen David Patreus, commander of US forces in Iraq, said: “We can see Suleimani as the Darth Vader of contemporary Middle Eastern Politics  He seemed to have more power than any single person on our side ever had.”
He added that in Iraq “it became more obvious Iran was recruiting Iraq Shia arabs, taking them to Iran and sending them back, enabling them with very sophisticated weapons.”
One occasion coalition forces attacked a convoy believed to contain Suleimani.
“We saw a convoy coming into the north and it was reported that he was with it,“ said Gen Stanley McChystal, former US Special Operations commander, Iraq.

“We weren't a hundred percent sure if he was there, or even if we had authority to go after him. It was pretty dicey stuff. This wasn't like normal counter-terror ops where you land and have a firefight on the ground. “
A raid on the convoy was to prove fruitless, however, after their prey alluded them. 
And retaliation was swift.
The master tactician devised a sophisticated retaliation plan to send Jihadis in black vehicles to ”hoodwink their way” into a US base and kidnap five US soldiers who were subsequently executed. 
“It reflected a real upping of the anti,” said Gen Patreus. “This was no longer just militias with AK47s. This was a real special operation carried outcry skilfully by quite highly trained individuals. “
Maj-Gen Jonathan Shaw, commander British Army Iraq in 2007, said: “Suleimani was pulling strings from afar. Iran supplied the militia with explosive devices. We knew it was happening but we simply couldn’t stop them coming in. Their bombs got bigger, our protection got bigger. 
“It was an intimidation campaign orchestrated by him - keeping the heat on us, saying we’d better get out.”
Suleimani is also credited with saving Bashar Assad's  regime.
“It is unlikely the Assad regime would have had the competence to weather the years where it looked like it was about to teeter without Suleimani,“ said Gen McChystal.
On occasion, however, their nemesis was happy to operate with the US when aims aligned.
Shia Iranians wept on the streets of Tehran for the US victims of the 9/11, carried out by Sunni muslims with al Qaeda.
Suleimani offered to help US forces in Afghanistan fight al Qaeda's allies, the Taliban, and secret meetings were set up in Geneva between US diplomat Ryan Crocker and one of the general's  envoys.
“He produced a map to show the Taliban order of battle throughout Afghanistan," said Amb Croker. "He accompanied it with advice that we strike certain targets first. 
"I asked if I could take notes. He gave me the map to keep.  The was Suleimani’s  ability to make things happen quickly.”
This “moment of cooperation” between Iran and the US ended abruptly when President George Bush included Iran as part of the axis of evil. 
“The Axis of Evil speech slammed that door shut and it has not re-opened,“ he said.
Six years later, as Iranian- sponsored militias threatened to take over Basra, Suleimani used beleaguered Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki to extend another message, this time to Gen Patreus.
“Prime Minister al-Maliki said he’d just come back from a meeting with Suleimani, which was a true jaw dropper. He said:  ‘I have a message for you from him. It goes like this: you should know that I control policy for Iran with respect to Iraq and also Syria, Afghanistan, Gaza and so on,'” said Gen Patreus.
“The point he was making was we should do a deal. There was something to it. i was the sheikh of the strongest tribe to Iraq at that time.
“But  I said I was not going to meet with a two star general leading elements to kill our soldiers, There was no way i was going to sit down with him.”
Prof Ali Ansari, of St Andrews University, said Suleimani's courage on the battlefield and his undying loyalty to the Supreme leader have turned him  into “a hero of ancient Iranian mythology for Iranians ; a modern day knight in shining armour who by sheer force of will and goodness has been able to banish all evils.”
Suleimani's so-called "shia crescent" strategy in the Middle East  is easy to work out, said former Mossad Chief Danny Yatom.
“His strategy is the strategy of Iran: to establish a land corridor which would link Tehran to the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean via Iraq," he said.
"You can transport more weapons by road than than cargo planes. In addition it would help them to encircle Israel. 
"We will not allow it to happen."
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