Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s notorious Quds Force — the terrorism department of Iran’s complex military structure — violated multiple United Nations resolutions with a visit to Moscow on Wednesday.
“Soleimani is visiting Moscow to express his displeasure with the Russian government over their relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, mainly regarding weapons deals and strengthening economic ties,” according to Fox News.
“These are two countries that want to cause trouble for the United States, and they’re talking together, which means even more trouble for the United States. If there are no consequences to violating sanctions, then they’ll just do more of it,” House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said in a Fox News interview.
As the Fox report notes, this is not the first time Soleimani has defied U.N. Resolution 1747, which forbids international travel for fifteen individual Iranians. He visited Moscow at least twice in 2015 after the agreement on the Iran nuclear deal. Russia is also in violation of U.N. resolutions by allowing his visits.
Soleimani’s Quds Force has been instrumental in Syria. Damascus supporters see him as a war hero for turning the tide against rebel forces and preserving the regime of Bashar Assad. He was also reportedly instrumental in convincing Russia to intervene in Syria.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) called for additional U.S. sanctions on Russia as a consequence of Soleimani’s visit.
“He was just caught in Moscow violating the existing sanctions that we have on his travel. So when the president of the United States says that this was a badly negotiated deal, we now see that not only are they developing these ballistic missiles, but they are in consultation with the head of their terror network in Moscow – obviously for additional weapons of war. And we have to move now,” said Royce.
Royce went on to accuse the Obama administration of willfully ignoring Soleimani’s U.N.-defying visits to Moscow in 2015, even though they had photographic proof of his presence, because they didn’t want to make the nuclear deal look even worse. Reports have traced the deaths of hundreds of American troops during the occupation of Iraq back to Soleimani’s Quds Force.
Voice of America News reported on Wednesday that a lightly fictionalized version of Soleimani appears as the top commander of Iranian forces in a new animated film called Battle of the Persian Gulf II, which depicts Iran wiping out the entire United States Navy after the Navy attacks an Iranian nuclear reactor. The character was originally supposed to be Soleimani, but his name was changed at the request of the Quds Force commander’s colleagues.