Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Qods Force, a division of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which conducts special operations outside Iran, visited Egypt at the end of December at the invitation of President Mohamed Morsi’s government.
The Times of London reported that the purpose of the visit was “to advise the government on building its security and intelligence apparatus independent of the national intelligence services, which are controlled by Egypt’s military.” During the visit he met with Essam al-Haddad, foreign affairs adviser to Mr Morsi, and officials from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Times article quoted one Egyptian official as saying,”The government requested a high-level meeting with Iranian officials. Iran sent Suleimani.”
“The meeting was intended to send a message to America, which is putting pressure on the Egyptian government, that we should be allowed to have other alliances with anyone we please.”
According to the Times “Sending Mr Suleimani underlines how seriously Tehran takes this opportunity. He is commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and his power is arguably surpassed only by Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.” Suleimani is responsible for Iran’s proxy militias such as Hezbollah.
Morsi and his Islamist backers have grown frustrated that Egypt’s intelligence services, still run by holdovers from the Mubarak era, have refused to share information with the government or allow the Brotherhood access to their surveillance apparatus. That frustration has opened the door to Tehran. In exchange for its assistance, Iran sought concessions on Syria, sources in Cairo told the Times.