Recent years have seen an ascendancy of key individuals linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. The IRGC already has a parallel state in Iran, controlling parts of the economy and foreign policy, and building up new military technologies such as missiles, drones and attack boats.
According to the Tasnim News Agency, IRGC Quds Force head Ismail Qaani congratulated Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on his election as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a visit to the ministry.
Why does this matter? In the past, former IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani was seen as the “shadow commander” in reports, a figure who moved around the Middle East and pushed Iran’s agenda far and wide, but who did not often brag of his role. When the US killed Soleimani in a drone strike in January 2020, he was replaced by Qaani, a man of unclear abilities. Qaani was rumored to be an expert on Afghanistan, and it may be that his role there helped remove the US from Kabul this year, but his role in Iraq and Syria is not yet fully formed.
Nevertheless, the reports of his meeting at the Foreign Ministry seek to showcase his power and influence. In the meeting he emphasized “the special and significant position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in securing the national interests of our country,” the report said.
But why does the Ministry, previously run by Javad Zarif, who had fame in the West, need the blessings of the Quds Force? Because this illustrates the real power structure and how the ministry works hand in glove with the IRGC.
Zarif – although he postured as being close to the IRGC when necessary, and as a “moderate” when speaking to Western audiences – was not really close to Soleimani. Of interest here, the report says that Amir-Abdollahian, “while appreciating the valuable presence of Sardar Qaani in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the irreplaceable role of Soleimani in the fight against terrorism.” Iran uses the term “terrorism” to refer to ISIS and other extremists. “Today our region was different,” the minister apparently said. “If ISIS had succeeded in Syria and Iraq, it would have faced terrorism and extremism all over the world today.”
Why did they discuss ISIS? Because the Quds Force helped Iraq defeat the worldwide jihadist group. “Amir Abdullahian called the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a soldier without borders who has made a great contribution... to regional and global security and peace,” the report says. The minister said that today Iran seeks to follow in the path of Soleimani in the region, using the Quds Force to achieve its goal of extending “friendship with the countries of the region.”
It’s important to note here that he used the word “terror” several times and that Iran has recently accused Israel of “terror” attacks in Iran. Iran also bragged this week about defeating a “terrorist group” and other reports in Iran appeared to indicate that the Islamic Republic was angry at Azerbaijan, which it has accused of having close ties to Israel.
Iran’s top diplomat also accuses the US of “terrorism” and claims the US killing of Soleimani was “terrorism.” Pro-Iran groups often claim that America backs ISIS, even though it is fighting ISIS.
This means the Iranian use of the term “terror” is quite broad and may refer to Quds Force action against Israel, the US and other countries, as well as the battle against ISIS. Iran claims it is the “axis of resistance” in this framework. The publication of details of the Qaani meeting is intended to show that the new regime of Iran coordinates closely with the Quds Force.Iran’s IRGC Quds Force head hints at group’s power at home and Middle East
Qaani’s meeting with the Foreign Ministry is to show coordination between Iran’s diplomats and officers.