Part of the BBC’s This World strand, this programme looks at the murky world of Qassem Suleimani, an Iranian general who is relatively unknown in the west, but has been involved in the power struggle in the Middle East for decades.
A child of and a supporter of the Islamic Revolution, Suleimani joined the country’s Revolutionary Guard, fought in the Iraq-Iran War, and later became the commander of the Quds Force, a group that carries out more underhanded forms of warfare.
At times he and those closest to him were helping the west, such as providing the Americans information about Afghanistan after 9/11, or helping to fight against Islamic State. However, for most of the time he was fighting against the US and Israel. Working with Shia militias Suleimani’s tactics were responsible for many deaths of British and American troops in Iraq when the western powers occupied the country after the Iraq War. He has also helped Iran’s support of the Assad regime in Syria, the Syrians being Iran’s closest ally.
The documentary features interviews with people from both sides of the conflict, although the people against Suleimani are in the majority. There are interviews with those who have fought beside him, but most the contributors are British and American military personal and politicians, as well as some people from Iraq and Israel.
It is a difficult programme to get through, partly due to the complex nature of the politics of the situation. As stated, he has attacked western powers, but has also attacked the enemies of those western powers for the sake of his own country. He has also been responsible for the deaths of thousands in war, including 179 British troops in Iraq. One of the people interviewed, a Mossad agent, calls Suleimani a terrorist. It is a difficult subject that a 60-minute long programme cannot really give justice to.
Shadow Commander: Iran’s Military Mastermind is on BBC iPlayer.