As commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, a unit responsible for countless acts of international terrorism, Major General Qassem Suleimani manages all aspects of Teheran’s external military strategy in the Middle East. In Lebanon, Suleimani coordinates Iranian activities with Hezbollah. In Iraq, he controls the Iranian-financed Shia militias. In Syria, he directs Iran’s extensive materiel and financial support for the Assad regime and its allied foreign fighters. And in U.S. military circles, Suleimani is best known for his proxy campaign against American soldiers after the second Gulf War—which resulted in hundreds of U.S. combat deaths and thousands of serious injuries.
And yet the Iran Deal announced on July 14, 2015 will grant sanctions relief to Qassem Suleimani—along with any number of other well-known terrorist figures, including Ahmad Vahidi, one of the masterminds of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center bombing, and Anis Naccache, the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese national who once served as deputy to Carlos the Jackal.
How will sanctions relief for Suleimani and others like him affect ongoing conflicts and tensions in the Middle East? Once emboldened and empowered by the removal of existing sanctions (asset freezes, travel bans, and so forth), how can these men—and the very real threats they pose—be contained and deterred?
On Friday, August 28th, Hudson Institute hosted a timely panel discussion on the implications of sanctions relief for terrorist figures like Qassem Suleimani. Experts with first-hand knowledge of Suleimani and his associates’ deadly activities—including Derek Harvey, Jack Keane, and Michael Pregent—joined Hudson Senior Fellow Lee Smith for a penetrating analysis of this too-often-overlooked aspect of the P5+1’s agreement with Iran.