Where Is Russia’s Strongman in the Coronavirus Crisis?
Putin Lets Local Leaders Take the Credit and the Fall
Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, was one of the most influential and popular figures in the Islamic Republic and a particular nemesis of the United States. He led Iran’s campaign to arm and train Shiite militias in Iraq—militias responsible for the deaths of an estimated 600 American troops from 2003 to 2011—and became the chief purveyor of Iranian political influence in Iraq thereafter, most notably through his efforts to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). He drove Iran’s policies to arm and support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including by deploying an estimated 50,000 Shiite militia fighters to Syria. He was the point man for Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon, helping to supply the group with missiles and rockets to threaten Israel. He drove Iran’s strategy to arm the Houthis in Yemen. For all these reasons and more, Soleimani was a cult hero
Neither Side Wants a Fight, but That Doesn’t Eliminate the Danger