IRGC: Iran's Power Player

On April 15, Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, traveled to Moscow for talks with Russian political and military officials regarding the two countries’ strategies in Syria and the delivery of Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran. Despite an international ban that prohibits Soleimani from legally traveling abroad, this trip marks the second (or possibly third) time that the shadowy Iranian general has visited the Russian Federation in the last year – a testament to Moscow’s importance in Iranian foreign policy.

The Quds Force represents a critical branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful paramilitary organization that, according to the Iranian constitution, is charged with preserving the Islamic revolution. Formed in 1979, the IRGC plays a key role in Iranian domestic and foreign affairs, and the Quds Force, headed by Soleimani, conducts the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations.

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