Alwaght- During the time of rise and development of ISIS terror group in Syria and Iraq, and while the Western and Arab countries were busy forming their so-called anti-ISIS coalition, the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) led by General Qassim Soleimani put aside the policy of patience and tolerance and considered the major priorities and entered quickly the war against ISIS as it understood the size of strategic risks the terrorist group presented regionally and internationally, and responded to advances of the group towards Baghdad and Damascus.
During these years, the Quds Force played such a brilliant role in anti-ISIS operations that very soon it turned into a key power launching anti-terror operations in the region. Additionally, this influential play of role by IRGC’s wing has repelled massive presence of Western players specifically the US in the vicinity of Iran including in Iraq under the excuse of fighting ISIS. This is of significance strategically in long term.
Despite the fact that pro-Israeli Western and Arab media through their propaganda have tried always to question the nature and performance of Quds Force and its commander General Soleimani, its outstanding military and operational role in the regional developments has been so considerable that not only the public opinion but also many of the regional and international powers now admit that the group has the upper hand in losses and retreatments of ISIS. Recently, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has lauded Iran’s role in fighting ISIS in Iraq.
On the other side, everybody knows that Quds Force influentially played a role in formation of such forces as Iraq’s Public Mobilization Forces, Syria’s Mobilization Forces, and Ansarullah resistant movement in Yemen which now turned into major wings of these countries’ armies for recapturing many of the seized areas.
In fact, the successful performance of Quds Force in Syria and Iraq in comparison to other powers claiming to fight terrorism including the US-led International anti-ISIS military coalition not only expanded its leadership over the Resistance Axis in the region but also kept the US from turning into an anti-terror hero in Iraq and the region’s public opinion.
Presence of Quds Force in Iraq and Syria made Iran sharing security and military borders with Turkey, Jordan, and the Israeli regime, and set off the alarm bells for the countries backing ISIS and opposing expansion of Tehran’s influence in the region. They, led by US and Saudi Arabia, several times tried, in a variety of ways, to block ways of progress of Quds Force, but they have never been successful.
In fact, a major part of the region’s political developments, and efforts by Persian Gulf Arab states for forming a joint defense force are understandable from this perspective. Additionally, it is predicted that the surprising successes and advances of Quds Force in Syria and Iraq could provoke the international powers like the US, and push them to deploy forces for direct involvement in Syria and Iraq in a bid to prevent increasing Iranian and Quds Force’s influence.
In general, the top priorities of Quds Force for engagement in fight against ISIS or in a broader view against terrorism could be summarized in the following cases.
First priority is military, doctrinal, and ideological confrontation of the terrorist groups and closing down ways for their expanded roles in the region, because this could bring heavy political, doctrinal, and logistic consequences for the Resistance camp in West Asia region.
The second priority is defending sovereignty of Iraq and Syria and also protecting the holy places there.
The third priority is backing all of the groups and movements in Syria and Iraq fighting ISIS and other terror groups. This support ranges from the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to the Shiite PMF and Sunni tribal forces. This backing is advisory, and as many governments and media in the region and world acknowledged it has been influential in dealing blows to terrorists and pushing them back from areas they once held.
The fourth priority is jointly working with other IRGC forces as well as Iran’s army to assure that no clashes spill over into Iranian territories. The security guarantee comes through determining a 100-kilometers no-entry border zone.
The fifth priority is using the media campaigns to take on the Saudi and Israeli-backed takfiri and Wahhabi movements in the region.
Nevertheless, in a broader view the top priority of Quds Force must be seen and defined in its confrontation of the US and Israeli discourse which is now represented by terrorism and the terrorist groups rising from it including ISIS and al-Nusra Front.