March 03, 2011

Iran's Secret Network: Major General Qassem Suleimani's Inner Circle

Originally published in AEI Middle Eastern Outlook

This is the second in a series of Middle Eastern Outlooks about Qassem Suleimani.

On January 24, 2011, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promoted Qassem Suleimani, chief of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), to major general, the highest rank in the IRGC since the end of the Iran/Iraq war in 1988. As discussed in the first Outlook in this series, Suleimani's rise to prominence in the IRGC has been gradual rather than meteoric. His personal and professional background and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in the late 1990s helped advance his career. However, Suleimani's network matters, too. This Outlook identifies members of Suleimani's network within and outside the IRGC. It also argues that fluctuations in their careers could serve as indicators of Suleimani's authority in the Islamic Republic.

Key points in this Outlook:

  • Two letters reveal Major General Qassem Suleimani's secret network in Iran.

  • Suleimani's inner circle has risen to power within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps since the Iran/Iraq war.

  • By following fluctuations in the careers of other individuals in Suleimani's network, we can assess his power in the Islamic Republic.   

View this Outlook as a PDF