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The Shadow Commander

Soleimani, the US, and Iran’s Global Ambitions


When the US assassinated Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, he was one of the most powerful men in Iran. The military spearhead for Iranian foreign policy, he enacted the wishes of the country’s Supreme Leader, establishing the Islamic Republic as a major force in the Middle East. He masterminded interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, supporting Iran’s allies and campaigning against the Taliban, US forces, Israel and ISIS. But all this was a long way from where he began – on the margins of a country whose ruler was regarded as a friend of the West.

In this gripping account, Arash Azizi examines Soleimani’s life, regional influence and future ambitions. He breaks new ground through interviews with Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians who knew Soleimani for years, including his personal driver, the aides who accompanied him to his Moscow meeting with Vladimir Putin, and his brother. Through Soleimani, Azizi reveals the true nature of Iran’s global ambitions, providing a rare insight into a country whose actions are much talked about but seldom understood.

‘An important book about one of the Middle East’s most charismatic and powerful men in recent years.’

– Middle East Monitor

‘Mr. Arash Azizi…provides one of the most fascinating books of 2020 and one of the most insightful – into not just Soleimani, but also Iran’s foreign and security aims in the Middle East. A story that easily could have descended into hagiography is masterfully told by Mr. Azizi, who weaves one of the richest and most complex tapestries about the region I’ve come across in some time, especially in so short of a book. It is not just a biography of Soleimani, but a biography of modern Iran and its role in the Middle East.’

– Diplomatic Courier

‘Extensively researched and drawing on a vast range of sources, this is the definitive account of one of the Middle East’s most powerful, ambitious and enigmatic figures. Essential reading.’

– Christopher Davidson, author of Shadow Wars

‘A fascinating account of the strengths and weaknesses of the most enigmatic warlord in the Middle East. Azizi skilfully portrays Soleimani’s life and death in the wider context of Iran’s recent history and politics.’

– Anshel Pfeffer, author of Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu