The deputy of General Qassem (Ghassem) Soleimani has said that Iran’s Qods force brought Syria’s Bashar Assad to Tehran last week.
Esmail Qa’ani deputy commander of the Qods force is quoted by Iran’s ISNA as saying that “those who were supposed to know [about the trip], knew about it”.
Bashar Assad paid an unannounced visit to Iran last week, which prompted a controversy as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was not invited to his meetings with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
Zarif resigned form his post in protest and was later asked by Rouhani to reconsider his resignation. Zarif accepted and returned to his post.
Qa’ani has presented the issue as a “need to know’ situation, insisting that “those who should not have known, did not know” about the trip. He reiterated that few officials were informed, and the secrecy was maintained to the end of Assad’s visit.
The senior Revolutionary Guard commander has also blamed the government, saying that Rouhani knew about the visit but did not inform Zarif. Soleimani had also blamed “lack of coordination” in the presidential administration for Zarif not being informed.
Qa’ani also mentioned “differences” with the government, saying “we have many differences with the government, but after all this is our government and we have to work with them, and we do work”.
Recently, the Islamic Revolution guards Corps and hardliners have been putting more pressure on Rouhani and his ministers, often blaming them for the 2015 nuclear deal and the country’s economic crisis.