Among the big winners in the agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, count a notorious and shadowy Iranian general who helped Shiite militias in Iraq kill American soldiers and who has come to the rescue of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
You’ll find his name, Qasem Soleimani, buried in an annex (PDF) of the unremittingly dense Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, along with some of his colleagues from the senior ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as its various divisions and corporate fronts. They’ll all be granted some sanctions relief as part of the U.S.-brokered deal to curtail Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
That Soleimani — who runs Iran’s elite paramilitary and covert operations group, the Quds Force — was even on the list appeared to catch some U.S. officials by surprise. A senior administration official briefing reporters on Tuesday morning didn’t have a ready response when asked when and why Soleimani was added. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly denied that the 58-year-old general was on the list to be freed from the sanctions yoke. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, agreed, saying Soleimani — whom the U.S. accused in 2011 of plotting to launch a terrorist attack in the United States — had been confused with someone else with a similar name.