The influence and clout of the once formidable Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), which directs Iran’s external operations, have been faltering under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani.
Since taking the helm on short notice, following the January 2020 assassination of his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, Qaani has failed to distinguish himself in his new role, and has no significant achievements to his name, observers say.
There are many indicators of failure, but the most obvious of them is “the loosening of Iran’s grip on its traditional allies in Iraq” — its proxy militias.
A coalition of militias calling itself the “Iraqi Resistance Co-ordination Committee” comprising Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Sayed al-Shuhada and small factions linked to Kataib Hizbullah continues to defy and shrug off Iran’s instructions.
Rifts have begun to emerge among Iran-aligned militias in Iraq in recent months as a result of conflicts over tribute money, smuggling outlets, and drug trafficking, and as they jockey for power and influence.
Qaani’s lackluster leadership has frustrated the Iranian regime, which has seen Iran’s influence and sway decline in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
On 12 November, Syrian President Bashar Assad decided to dismiss the commander of Iranian IRGC-QF forces in Syria, Javad Ghaffari, according to multiple sources.
Sources in the presidential palace were dissatisfied with Ghaffari’s actions and went as far as deeming them a “violation of Syrian sovereignty,” the report said.
A Syrian source explained that Ghaffari’s dismissal constitutes a decisive blow against former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps head Qasem Soleimani’s vision of Iranian hegemony over the strategic area between Iran and Lebanon.