Iran loses Iraqi militias as Qasem Soleimani’s successor proves too weak

Esmail Qaani – Iran’s new Quds Force chief after Qasem Soleimani’s assassination – lacks authority to stop Iraqi militia attacks on US targets, sources say.

On a baking early summer evening last month, Iran’s man in Iraq sat down in Baghdad with a group of militiamen to try to bring calm to the capital’s foreboding streets.

Qaani’s role had been to convince the militias that it was not in theirs and Iran’s interests to continue to fire rockets at the US embassy in the Green Zone, or at Erbil airport in northern Iraq, where US forces remain.

His presence filled Qasem Soleimani’s boots, his predecessor, who had ruled the landscape of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon for 15 years until he was killed by a US drone in January 2020. Until his death, Soleimani commanded the Quds Force, which is the Arabic word for Jerusalem and is responsible for carrying out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities. The force is responsible for training, financing, and providing assistance to countless extremist groups across the middle-east.

According to two of the participants and another briefed on the meeting, Qaani missed his moment.

Qaani’s job in Iraq is very difficult, and Qaani’s weakness leads to the strengthening of the militias in Iraq, this is mainly due to his lack of experience in Iraq or Syria and his inability to speak Arabic, despite having 12 years of experience serving the Quds Force in Afghanistan.

More importantly, according to multiple sources who have met the new commander and are familiar with his connections in Iran, he does not have a rapport with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, or his office. On paper, the role he plays is the same as Soleimani, a unique combination of Special Forces commander, intelligence chief, and presidential envoy. However, he clearly lacks the latter element – the most essential of the trilogy.

Source: The Guardian
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