The assassination last month of Qassem Suleimani, the leader of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has set off a wave of debates in the United States about Iranian foreign policy. Tehran’s opportunistic and pragmatic foreign policy does not always fit neatly into contemporary left- or right-wing narratives—especially when it comes to Afghanistan, where Suleimani played a critical role.
Left and progressive commentators in the United States position Iran as an “anti-imperialist” state resisting American influence in the Middle East, as has been echoed by various supposed anti-war groups demonstrating across the West. They claim Suleimani was creating regional stability by combating the Islamic State and protecting Shiite communities. But being opposed to the Islamic State is a low bar—opposition to the militant organization has unified all armed actors in the region from the U.S.-led coalition to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Armed Forces, the Iranian military, and even some hard-line Islamist groups such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.