The Sept. 8 visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Iraq caught the media’s attention, but that of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, in late August largely passed unremarked. While in Baghdad, Zarif denied that Iran had any intention of hitting US interests in Iraq in response to a potential strike on Syria.
He warned, however, “Whoever starts the war on Syria will not be able to contain it or put an end to it.” Soleimani’s talks, however, were shrouded in an air of secrecy and confidentiality.
Informed sources told Al-Monitor that Soleimani, dispatched to deal with developments involving Syria, had been disappointed by the failure of Iran’s “Iraqi friends” to stick together in confronting dangerous regional developments deemed fateful by Tehran.
These same sources confirmed that during his August visit Soleimani had no longer been interested in the types of details that he had discussed in the past, such as managing relationships among the key Shiite parties or their relationships with other Iraqi parties.
In this respect, it must be noted that Soleimani has been in charge of the Syrian dossier since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis within the capacity of his responsibility for Iranian national security. For the time being, Iraqi issues come in second, but are a complementary concern.
According to Al-Monitor’s sources, Soleimani was clearly upset during his visit by the lack of enthusiasm among the main Iraqi Shiite forces for a project Tehran proposed months ago within the scope of its regional arrangements. The political element of the proposed project sought to prompt Iraqi Shiite forces to form a united front for managing Iraqi affairs and to avoid conflicts among themselves.