WASHINGTON – The Iranian general who helped broker an end to nearly a week of fighting between Iraqi government forces and Shiite Muslim militiamen in southern Iraq is an unlikely peacemaker.
Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who helped U.S.-backed Iraqi leaders negotiate a deal with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to stop the fighting in Iraq’s largely Shiite south, is named on U.S. Treasury Department and U.N. Security Council watch lists for alleged involvement in terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology.
His role as peacemaker, which McClatchy first reported Sunday, underscores Iran’s entrenched political power and its alliances in Iraq, according to analysts.
“The Iranians are into a lot of things, and have a lot of influence,” said Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst who’s now at the National Defense University in Washington.
Suleimani, about whom little is known publicly, commands the elite Quds (Jerusalem) force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. officials allege that the force is responsible for sending sophisticated roadside bombs, known as explosively formed projectiles, and other weaponry that Iran’s Shiite allies in Iraq sometimes have used to kill U.S. troops.
Suleimani’s name appears on a U.S. Treasury Department list of individuals and organizations with whom Americans are barred from doing business.
He’s also mentioned in a March 2007 U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at halting Iran’s uranium enrichment program.