By Manish Rai
The Iranian Quds force recently came into limelight once again because of escalation in its conflict with Israel. The Quds force fired around 20 rockets from the Syrian Golan heights at Israeli military outposts but most of these rockets were either intercepted or fell with Syrian territory itself. Israel responded with overwhelming force. It attacked dozens of Iranian targets across Syria in what the military said was the most extensive strike in the neighboring country in decades. Let’s have a look at this notorious force of Iran which is on a rampage campaign across the whole Middle East. The Quds Force was established during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) to undertake secret operations inside Iraq. But now after almost three decades of its establishment, the QF is considered as one of the most powerful security agencies in the Middle East. The Quds Force is one of the five branches of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and often referred to as the IRGC-QF. The QF can be best described as a hybrid organisation which performs the task of an intelligence agency and a special force both. The IRGC-QF is the Iranian mullah regime primary foreign action arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist organizations and extremist groups around the region.
The Quds force not only operates to protect Iranian interests or to safeguard their country but it’s primary motive is to push the Iranian regime’s agenda in the region. The QF is always in search of an opportunity where it can destabilize a fragile state to make it an Iranian satellite like it did in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The Quds Force is the secretive spearhead of Iran’s push for hegemony in the Middle East. It has been training and equipping terrorist groups around the Middle East for decades, and it is responsible for some of the most notorious terrorist acts in the world. The QF, apart from creating its proxies, also focuses on activating terrorist networks and training agents in ‘sabotage’, providing military and financial support to Islamist opposition organizations in Muslim countries, and operations against the Iranian opposition in exile. Force operatives also actively indulge in the gathering of intelligence, the financing of terror groups and their operations on foreign soil, and the infiltration of foreign political parties, social groups and religious organizations. Its agents also engage in the surveillance of foreign government officials, religious officials and speakers to spot sympathizers which can be used either directly or as deep assets.
While dealing with its rival Sunni states in the region, the Quds force without any hesitation use terrorist acts either directly through its agents or through its proxies like the Khobar bombing of 1996 in Saudi Arabia. In recent years the Quds Force exploited the democratic process most notably in Lebanon and Iraq using it to enhance the status of the terrorist organizations the militias and radical Islamic groups supported by Iran. The Quds force successfully made its proxies a prominent political force in their home countries and by doing this Iran can anytime put immense pressure on the political leadership of these countries to accept Iranian hegemony. The Quds force is not a rogue intelligence service of a country which even don’t take its political leadership into confidence. The Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Suleimani reports directly to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The QF has offices in many Iranian embassies around the world, which operate as closed sections. The Quds force showcase a classic example of state-sponsored terrorism.
The Quds Force is clearly an obstacle for the process of peacemaking and stabilization in the Middle East. The United States Treasury Department in 2007 designated the Quds force as a material supporter of terrorism but that wasn’t sufficient enough for the US administration to go much further. The Quds force, along with its parent organization that is the IRGC, should be on the US State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations. The efforts to counter the QF support infrastructure for its proxy networks should also be a priority. Moreover, the United States along with its regional strategic partners like- Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Sunni Arab states that share a common interest in countering Iran’s threatening ambitions, should carve out an effective strategy to contain this Iranian agency. There should be joint and coordinated efforts to put pressure on the Quds Force to abandon its destructive role in the region.
The author is a columnist and Geo-Political analyst for the Middle-East and Af-Pak region and can be reached at email@example.com
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