“Qassem Suleimani, the supposed strategic genius of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has blundered disastrously. By overreaching in Iraq and Syria and triggering a violent reaction, Iran now faces dangerous instability on its border for years to come,” writes Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
“Suleimani’s orchestration of brutal military campaigns in both Syria and Iraq set the stage for the Sunni Arab response turning to extremism,” explains Derek Harvey, a longtime Iraq intelligence analyst who now teaches at the University of South Florida.
Harvey lists some of Suleimani’s mistakes: “He missed opportunities for moderation while still protecting Iranian interests. His partnership with extremism in Syria resulted in the threat growing in Syria and rebounding to Iraq. His refusal to counsel some moderation and inclusion by [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-]Maliki developed a fertile environment for [the Islamic State] and others to exploit.”
“Iran is now rushing to mobilize its Iraqi allies to stop the marauding Sunni insurgents from seizing Baghdad’s airport. The Iranians, watching the collapse of the U.S.-trained Iraqi army, have turned to Shiite militias that are trained and run by Suleimani’s operatives. But this reliance on sectarian militias only deepens the potential for violence; indeed, it’s probably the polarizing response the Islamic State hoped to trigger,” the Post article adds.
“For Suleimani, his best chance to keep Kurdistan part of Iraq is by reducing his Shiite allies’ control in a future Iraqi federal state. Similarly, the best way to suppress the Islamic State — short of a potentially ruinous, all-out attack by Iranian-backed troops — is by empowering Sunni tribal fighters and their patrons in Saudi Arabia. For Suleimani, it’s a lose-lose situation.”