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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gen. Qasem Soleimani: Master of Covert Operations

General Qasem Soleimani, a name not known to many but with a huge impact. He had always been a thorn in the US' back because of his clandestine operations. the US accused him of attacking their interests in the region. General Qasem was solely credited with stopping ISIS' advances in the Middle East. How far back will his assassination put back Iran?

The assassination of any General can hurt any army but General Qasem is a loss more than that. He wasn’t known to many people, preferred to live off camera and had a very typical way of operating. He gave Iran a strength that is very rare. His personality means more than a General to Iran but in this piece lets only highlight his military contribution for Iran.

He was heading Al Quds force which is comprised of men 10,000 to 20,000 and it’s an unconventional branch of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). As mentioned it’s an unconventional branch that operates in that way and that’s why less known to people. This organization is banned by the US already. Al Quds primarily perform extraterritorial Ops outside Iran by clandestine operations.

Iran will remember Gen Qasem Solemani for a long time to come and what he has achieved for Iran on military front will keep benefiting them

Clandestine Operations are different than covert operations, they can’t be used as a synonym. Many of us know about spy agencies conducting covert operations on their own soil and outside. Covert operations focus on the concealment of the sponsor. But clandestine Ops emphasis on keeping the operation hidden and concealed. Ops can be both covert and clandestine if the sponsor and mission both are concealed.

He joined IRGC in 1979 with bare minimum training and rose very quickly because of his ability to mobilize and train nonmilitary person. He fought the Iran-Iraq war and earned his name as a brave fighter. After this, he was deployed on the Afghan front and worked on drug trafficking. He was approached by Americans to help against the Taliban after 9/11 but that deal didn’t materialize for some reason.

During the 80s and 90s, he served on many fronts and participated in many operations and till the time he became head of Al Quds in 1998 as Major General he had earned the name of strategist and was considered very close to Khamenei. His confidence and influence can be reflected from an incident of 1999, where he wrote a letter to then-president to crush that student rebellion or he will.

Read more: Pakistan’s foreign policy in tough spot: Who to choose, Iran or US?

Al Quds force that provides a platform for clandestine Ops, its major task is to operate extra-territorially and gather information and support non-state actors. They have been supporting Hautis in Yemen, Hezbullah in Lebanon, Shia Militias in Iraq, Kurds against ISIL and Hamas in Palestine.

It can be said as running the largest proxy network and achieving your goals on other soil and keeping the enemy engaged away from home. It started in 1982 against Saddam by mobilizing Kurd Militia in Iraq and then its operations expanded to Hezbullah. Al Quds has played it’s apart also in Afghanistan by supporting Northern Alliance against the Taliban first and then supporting the Taliban against US-backed Karzai government.

Since the inception of Al Quds, General Qasem had played vital role with it but after he became the head of Al Quds he took this organizations to whole new level and its effectiveness rose by miles. He helped Iran to strengthen his role and stakes across the region even when facing max economic sanctions.

That was not possible without doing it the way he did, by enhancing their footsteps across the region, using local people and ensuring they get what they want. Survival of Bashar ul Asad owes a lot to Al Quds besides Russians. And being so weak economically and sanctions since decades, if one country is able to defend their stakes across the region then it clearly reflects the sharp strategic planning and effective organizational layout.

Read more: How India betrayed Iran amid Soleimani’s assassination?

Iran will remember Gen Qasem Solemani for a long time to come and what he has achieved for Iran on military front will keep benefiting them.

Bilal Ahmed Shaikh is a Dy. Director Sukkar IBA University, Sukkar, Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.