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Will Iran’s most popular general enter politics?

With the presidential election one year away, the Iranian press is already speculating about Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani entering the race.

With the rise of the Islamic State on Iran’s western and eastern borders, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force division, which is responsible for Iran’s military operations outside of its borders, became one of Iran’s most popular figures. When the Iranian general allowed himself to be photographed at the front lines of bloody wars, his popularity soared and he was often compared to Iran’s popular and social media-savvy top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

With the massive popularity has now come speculation and concern that Soleimani, who has mostly kept a cool distance from partisan politics in his nearly 20 years as head of the Quds Force, could run in the upcoming presidential election. Conservatives may like to run popular figures like Soleimani, and many Reformists and moderates would likely be reluctant to run against someone of Soleimani’s stature.

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