The nuclear deal with Iran will lift international sanctions on Gen. Qassen Suleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, Iran’s elite foreign special forces division. This decision is a “shameful betrayal” of the “the American families of Suleimani’s casualties, and … those of us who lost friends and comrades” to Suleimani, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Barbero wrote Sunday for The Weekly Standard.
Within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force is responsible for special operations, including training, arming, and giving instructions to the terrorists, insurgents, and proxies that Iran uses to spread chaos across the Middle East. The head of the Quds Force is Major General Qassem Suleimani.
Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Quds Force mobilized and trained Shiite militias within Iraq for the purpose of killing Americans. This proxy campaign against United States forces was abetted by a particularly lethal weapon: explosively formed projectiles (EFPs). A form of roadside bomb with a sophisticated triggering mechanism and the ability to penetrate American armor, EFPs were estimated to account for 20 percent of U.S. deaths. And they came from only one place. “We knew where all the factories were in Iran.” General Stanley McChrystal, then head of the Joint Special Operations Command, told the New Yorker. “The E.F.P.s killed hundreds of Americans.”
There is no doubt within the Intelligence Community that Solemani’s proxy forces in Iraq were trained, equipped, financed and directed by him to bleed American forces; and bleed we did. Of this accomplishment the Iranians were very proud. In 2011, the hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan published an editorial proclaiming that, “it is undeniable that the Qods Force – and General Qasem Soleymani – have played the most significant role in cutting down to size the U.S. war machine in the Middle East.”
Though American sanctions will still apply to Suleimani, European Union and United Nations sanctions will be lifted against eight years after the agreement comes into force, though Barbero points out this will be done “without [Suleimani] having to demonstrate any change in behavior or remorse for his past crimes.” UN sanctions are more severe than the American ones as they are internationally binding.
Suleimani has helped support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and was in charge of an attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Suleimani stands to benefit from the deal even before sanctions against him are lifted. The easing of sanctions on Iran’s economy will free up billions of dollars in frozen funds, money that National Security Advisor Susan Rice acknowledged could be “used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.”
Give Suleimani’s record, Barbero concluded that it was “inexplicable” to relieve sanctions on “Iran’s terrorist in chief,” especially as part of a deal that was supposed to be focused only on Iran’s nuclear program. “For those of us who lost friends and comrades at the hands of Suleimani,” Barbero concluded, “his inclusion in this deal is a shameful betrayal.”
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