A group of Iranian dissidents recently gained control over 210 websites, software applications, servers, and databases belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Iran’s regime. This group, known as Ghiam ta Sarnegouni (uprising until the regime overthrow), has published numerous batches of seized documents that shed light on various matters, including the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities in Syria.
A collection of documents, appearing to be a correspondence between the regime’s consulate office in Aleppo and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), unveils a disturbing reality: the regime’s purported “diplomacy” not only aligns with terrorism but operates under the dominance of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force.
Who led the regime’s Consulate in Aleppo?
“The office that was previously the Quds Force’s main base in the Aleppo and northern Syria region, under the leadership of Haj Salman (Mr. Nawab Nouri), is now functioning as the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Aleppo. The commander of this headquarters has been appointed as the Consul General,” one document reads in part.
“Consequently, right from the start, the necessary personnel, including protection, services, and support, have been provided by individuals under the force’s command. These individuals primarily consist of Syrian soldiers serving as local defense forces. Additionally, a group of Quds Force personnel under the same command have remained stationed at the representative office, resulting in a military ambiance and attracting numerous military groups to visit the office.”
The beginning of the conflict
According to the leaked documents, the conflicts began soon after “the official members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to arrive gradually.” “Following Haj Salman’s decision and emphasis, the existing military forces and personnel under orders remained at the representative office. Only a few rooms on the ground floor of the administrative building, out of the three floors, were allocated to colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“Previously, the ground floor was a logistics area and a prayer room. The second floor was solely occupied by the economic department associated with the army, while the third floor functioned as the command office,” the letter adds.
An Embassy or a Military Camp?
The writer complains about the Quds Force occupying all the facilities, depriving the MFA’s personnel of access to many things, including cars.
“Due to the transitional situation and certain considerations in place, the recruitment of security personnel and locals has been discreet. Furthermore, the embassy experiences daily traffic of vehicles with military license plates. Over 15 cars with military license plates are stationed within the embassy compound, none of which have been allocated to colleagues sent from the central Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These vehicles are primarily utilized to address issues about the Quds Force,” he writes.
The Tensions escalate
The revealed documents indicate that “Following the decisions made within the Quds Force, the military command of northern Syria was transferred from Haj Salman to a more experienced individual named Haj Abdullah Karar. Under his new leadership,” the conflict between the MFA’s envoy and the Quds commander rises, forming a “noticeable shift in management approach, differing significantly from Haj Salman’s.”
“Due to the restrictions imposed on Haj Salman, where he lacks permission to enter or make decisions in all matters, he has faced certain limitations. However, leveraging his field connections and exerting pressure on the forces under his command, including soldiers and army personnel, he continues to operate like his previous approach,” the document adds.
According to the documents obtained by the Iranian dissidents, the Quds Force commander “Haj Salman has persisted in his behavior and control over affairs, but regrettably, it has yielded contrary outcomes in the political and diplomatic domains. This has resulted in disrupted communication with managers and provincial officials, as well as hindered follow-up on affairs. In some instances, communication has been completely severed. Such behavior, coupled with the imposition of various restrictions on the quality and level of performance, including the announced working hours, has had a detrimental impact. It has impeded the progress toward the established goals upon which the Aleppo consulate was founded.”
A Consulate with two sections
According to the writer, the consulate is divided into two distinct sections, with the Quds Force keeping its dominance.
As a result, the representative office is divided into two distinct sections:
- The paramilitary department, under the leadership of Haj Salman, commands the military forces and the army personnel, consisting of approximately 45 individuals. They are stationed on the third floor of the main building and other associated buildings. Their responsibilities encompass the management of the representative office’s buildings, including rooms, meeting halls, warehouses, and the consumption of diesel and gasoline, along with other available facilities. Additionally, individuals serving as clerics, scientific advisers, cultural advisers, and logistics personnel are stationed in the second building or the logistics building. They operate independently but are under the supervision of Haj Salman.
- Conversely, the diplomatic department is under my leadership. It consists of political, economic, consular, cryptographic, and financial experts, as well as a protection officer dispatched from the central ministry. Together, we oversee the diplomatic aspects of the representative office’s operations.
The document concludes that “Overall, the management of the entire complex is robust, and we have strived, as directed by the center, to carry out our duties while maintaining a harmonious environment for the colleagues sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“However, since Haj Salman has relinquished his previous position and has not yet been officially appointed as the Consul General, the representative office has experienced dual management, leading to an escalation of problems. Instead of leveraging synergies and combining capabilities, there has been a lack of cooperation among the power groups,” the document reads, adding that “This has resulted in numerous issues, including frequent power outages, which disrupt the agency’s day-to-day operations. It is worth noting that according to the initial agreement with the force, the existing facilities should be made available to the agency.”
“Based on the observed attitudes, approaches, and performance of the Quds Force brothers in relation to the duties and policies of the army during the months of cooperation with established individuals, it is recommended that the appointment of the consul general be reconsidered. Considering the dynamics and requirements of the role, a careful assessment of potential candidates would be beneficial in ensuring effective leadership and smooth functioning of the representative office,” the leaked document confirmed.
It is worth noting that in an audio file that was leaked in 2021, the regime’s then-Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, acknowledged how then-Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani “hindered diplomacy.” “Soleimani and I didn’t have the same views on many things, but we sensed that we had to coordinate,” he said.
“I can say that I always sacrificed diplomacy for the field [the warmongering policies]. I never could, not that I didn’t want to, to tell the field commander [Soleimani] to carry out a task.”
Zarif had previously acknowledged in 2019 that “Commander Soleimani and I never felt we have any differences. We have been working together closely for over 20 years. During the U.S. attack on Iraq, as Iran’s representative in New York, I had the greatest coordination with Commander Soleimani. Subsequently, when I became Minister, the two of us decided to make sure we met at least once a week when we were both in Tehran to review the latest developments and undertake the necessary coordination.”
On January 2, 2020, Mohsen Baharvand, Zarif’s Deputy Minister of Legal and International Affairs, said: “I will never forget that when I went to the Political Studies Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs almost every Tuesday at 7:30 am to attend a strategic meeting on foreign relations, I saw the glorious martyr, General Haj Qassem Soleimani, who was escorted out of the meeting room by Dr. Zarif.”
For the past four decades, the regime’s diplomatic facilities and missions have served as hubs and staging grounds for terrorism. A notable incident occurred in July 2018 when European security services apprehended a high-ranking diplomat-terrorist named Assadollah Assadi, along with three accomplices. They were intercepted while plotting to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadi has since been sentenced to life imprisonment in Belgium. His trial and the subsequent disclosure of documents revealed the extent to which the regime has exploited its embassies to orchestrate a network of terrorism and espionage.
The documents acquired by Iranian dissidents serve as additional evidence, emphasizing the imperative for the international community to hold the regime accountable. European countries, in particular, should take decisive action by shuttering the regime’s embassies and expelling its agents in order to safeguard their own security and send a strong message against state-sponsored terrorism.