In Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Towers Above All

(The National-Abu Dhabi) Con Coughlin - A rare interview this week with Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, has provided a fascinating insight into who controls the levers of power in the Islamic Republic. The country's supreme leader, under Iran's unique concept of the Vilayat-e Faqih, derives his authority from Islam and therefore has authority over the country's democratically-elected bodies. While President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif like to give the impression that they are ultimately responsible for representing their government's interests, as Suleimani's interview makes clear, the reality is very different. Suleimani provides some fascinating detail about the role he and Ayatollah Khamenei played in Lebanon during the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel. Suleimani was physically present in Lebanon for most of the 34-day conflict, where he worked closely with Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbullah. At one point, Suleimani travelled back to Iran to meet with Khamenei to update him on how the conflict was progressing. These events show that ultimate power resides with the supreme leader and key allies in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps such as Suleimani. Therefore, it is clear that Washington and its European partners have been wasting their time trying to arrange a bilateral summit between President Trump and Rouhani. The writer is defense and foreign affairs editor of Britain's Telegraph.

2019-10-04 00:00:00

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