We’ve heard about the suicide bombing in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Apparently al-Qaeda wanted to hit the Iranians in their real command and control post for the war in Syria. Ironically, The Hill had reported a day earlier that Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), a teaming of all Qaeda’s Iraqi cell and affiliated Syrian militant groups, agreed to come together to battle the growing Iranian presence in Syria.
Iran denies its involvement in the Syrian conflict. Its poor foreign minister, the always laughing Javad Zarif, had to lie last week that his country is not involved militarily in the Syrian civil war. Yet every week there are coffins of Quds Force officers and personnel that are transported to Iran and funeral processions are seen and reported across the country.
The Hill, citing a pro-FSA group, estimates that Quds Force has some 1,000 personnel in Syria. The estimate could be very close to the real numbers on the ground, which would mean the Quds Force has officers leading the operations of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias in Syria, estimated by the pro-FSA group at more than 4,000, and have enough officers to lead Syrian Army units in their fight to preserve the Assad regime. And by the way that’s the reason that whenever there is a report of Iranian casualty, it is invariably a senior officer of the Quds Force, the ones who are leading the fight.
Why comparison to Northern Ireland, and its Troubles, as the headline suggests? Syrian conflict is classic sectarian war, easy to start, very difficult to end, here pitting together the Shia’s and the Sunnis, with a foreign power and its cronies, in this case Iran’s Quds Force and its Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shia militias, against the majority Sunni population. And this is a type of a conflict that can go on for a very long time.
General Soleimani, the legendary commander of the Quds Force, affectionately referred to as “Haj Qasem”, is a very intelligent and an intellectual soldier. He has tried his best to limit his force’s involvement in actual battles inside Syria. He has let it be known how much he abhors seeing his officers’ coffins returning to Tehran. Yet, Syria is not a classic war, does Vietnam rings the bell? Battlefields shift, and ironically the asymmetrical warfare is employed against the Syrian army and Soleimani’s Quds Force, a force that was to define asymmetrical warfare against the West! How ironic!
File photo: Syrian conflict (NPR)