Why Iran Displayed Photos of Qasem Soleimani in Aleppo

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani’s presence in Aleppo proves the failure of US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy regarding Iran.

In an article for Al-Arabyia, Heshmat Alavi, a political and rights activist, writes that, “We are talking about a man grossly responsible for massacring innocent people across the Middle East,” and says that seeing photos of Soleimani touring the city shows how desperately Iran “needed to boast its tactical victory in Aleppo, knowing its future in Syria is actually quite gloomy.”

A travel ban was issued against Soleimani by the United Nations travel, and the Obama administration pledged to enforce to Congress, who were very critical of the Iran nuclear deal. Alavi says, “However, he has been photographed recently walking the streets of Aleppo, aimed to show Tehran cares less for international sanctions banning such measures.”  He continues, by saying that US reactions are the last of Iran’s concerns. 

State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked in a December 19th press briefing whether Washington will protest to the UN Security Council the fact that Soleimani has been seen in Aleppo. “We do intend to consult with our partners on the Security Council about how to address our concerns with this,” Kirby said

This UN resolution violation by Soleimani, was certainly carried out with the knowledge of  the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and according to Alavi, “represents the regime’s need to exaggerate such victories, while major concerns are rising in its camp. Iran’s influence in Lebanon has been common knowledge, especially with its financial and military support for the terrorist-designated Lebanese Hezbollah. However, there are serious signs of dissent regarding the Syria war from this crucial Iran foothold.”

Sheikh Subhi al-Tufayli, one of Lebanon’s leading Shia clerics and Hezbollah’s first secretary general back in 1989 to 1991, said, “All the effort, pressure, military, and war is against the genuine Syrian opposition. Whereas factions of the [Daesh/ISIS/ISIL] group must remain for the regime and its allies so that there can be a comparison between the two. No one would accept [Daesh], so they must accept the regime.” The influential al-Tufayli added, “These people [pro-Assad forces] claim they are fighting terrorist organizations. You [pro-Assad forces] are its mother and father. You raised them [Daesh] and continue yet. You ARE the terrorists. You are the killers, in secret and in public. And let me tell you: If you seize Aleppo – and a hundred Aleppos – you will be defeated.”

A renowned Lebanese Shia academic and political analyst, Hareth Sleiman, described the recent events in Aleppo “a shame on humanity… shame on the monsters Putin, Khameinei, Assad, and mercenaries from all corners of the world.”

“This is exactly why Iran has been enduring the direct burden of financially and militarily shoring Assad on the ground, while giving in to losing hegemony over the entire Syria dossier by begging the Russians to lend lethal air support,” writes Alavi.

Emphasizing that Assad’s army is depleted after six-years of war, Jim Phillips, a Heritage Foundation Middle East expert said, “Without Iran’s expanding military intervention, the Assad regime would have fallen months ago. While Russia’s military intervention has dominated media coverage on Syria, Iran has been responsible for almost all of the ground offensives in recent months that clawed back territory from the rebels and encircled Aleppo. It has deployed thousands of Revolutionary Guards.”

The Iranian opposition recently unveiled the scope of Tehran’s involvement in Syria.  “The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi.  The NCRI is a parliament-in-exile calling for peaceful regime change in Iran.

While Iran was recently involved in talks with Russia and Turkey over Syria, it is also pursuing goals they might not share. “As the situation moves closer to the realization of these separate goals, one can anticipate that differences in the Russian and Iranian approaches will become more apparent,” explained al-Monitor.

Russia has successfully established communication with legitimate Syrian opposition groups, and Iran is concerned over that. Talks between Moscow and Syrian opposition representatives have been hosted by Turkey. Russia also has good relations with the Syrian Kurds, while Iran’s links are limited to the Assad regime. Alavi writes, “To this end, any major alteration in the Assad regime structure or the sheer governance of Syria will most definitely strike a strategic blow to Tehran.” 

Tehran is also worried of the warm relationship with Moscow that a  Donald Trump White House, seems to enjoy. Rex Tillerson has a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his selection as America’s top diplomat has Iran worried that  Moscow will bridge gaps with Washington, while distancing itself from Tehran. 

Putin is known to favor a “solution among great power” to tackle terrorism, while Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism.  Alavi writes that, “In such a scenario, Iran will most likely be excluded from any solution seeking effort for the Syria mayhem. This spells a disaster recipe for Tehran and may even force the mullahs to revise their Levant options,” and adds, “All in all, Iran is on a course of losing maneuverability power in post-Assad Syria. Expecting a domino effect amongst its very small social and dwindling base back home, Iran desperately needs to publicize images of it forces on the ground in Aleppo.”