By Nijat İsmayilov
As we know, Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was killed in Baghdad airport in Iraq’s capital by the order of US President Donald Trump on 3 January.
Who was Qasem Soleimani? Iranian Che Guevara…
Qasem Soleimani was Major General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the commander of Quds Forces since 1998 operating secret military operations outside of the country.
He was born in 1956 in southeast Iran near the border with Afghanistan. When he was young he could achieve create connection with the current Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamanei before the Islamic Revolution. After passing some years from the revolution Khamanei took the leadership in İran and Soleimani became one of the most prominent figure in IRGC.
After his participation in Iran-Iraq war, he served as a commander of forces in the Afghanistan border. Khamanei brought him to the most powerful branch of IRGC Quds Forces in 1998. Quds Forces were organized for the expansion of Iranian influence in the region. Quds Forces became a strong-armed force which could fulfill intelligence services, special operations and made connections with not only authorities in the region but militias in the region.
In a civil war against his close partner Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he sent Shiite troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon to Syria to fight for Assad. He has been on the front line several times throughout Syria during the civil war. During Al-Qusayr battles in June 2013, Soleimani called Hezbollah leader to send its troops there. Asad earned significant benefit from this campaign.
Qasem Soleimani actively cooperated with Hezbollah, Hamas and Hashd Shaabi forces and he also led them in some battles.
When the Iraqi Shi’ite leader al-Sistani called for a fight against ISIS following the capture of Mosul in 2014, Qasem Suleimani turned it into a chance.
He recruited more than 50,000 fighters by recruiting young people who came to fight against ISIS in Hashd-Shaabi’s groups. He was also able to transform Hezbollah’s groups and Badr’s forces into a part of Hashdi-Shabi. During his fight against ISIS, Qasem Soleimani has been repeatedly seen on the Iraqi front. Following these activities, Soleimani became Che Guevara of the Middle East. It reinforces the ideological image of Soleimani, that is, for Shiites, who have won successive battles with the Yazid army of the modern era, saving thousands from ISIS. He soon becomes the Che Guevera of Shiites …
Behind the scenes of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani …
As noted above, he was a strongman of Iran in the Middle East, the prestigious General who won the battle against ISIS.
He was known for his influence on the victory of Nouri Al-Maliki in Iraqi Prime Ministerial elections in 2010. Maliki is considered very close to Iran. According to a 2018 poll conducted by Maryland University in partnership with Iraq Poll, Qasem Soleimani was the “the most favorite person” in Iraq with 83 percent of the vote.
Primarily, The United States turned blind to his struggle against ISIS, but Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East could not have bothered Washington when the threat of ISIS was eliminated. After the “ISIS hurricane” in the Middle East, Iran’s intelligence has filled the power vacuum, especially in the region where Shiites live.
IRGC has been active in the region and has made Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq a member of the unofficial Shiite Alliance.
The US and Israel have decided to limit Iranian rule in the Middle East. Iraq has already become a battleground between the US and Iran …
The last action for ending US patience was the burning of the US embassy on January 1, 2020 by the Hashd Shaabi group– unofficially backed and led by Soleimani.
The incident was the response to the burning of the Iranian consulate in Iraq on November 28, but the US reacted more harshly and killed Soleimani.
In this way, Washington also showed that it would not hesitate to open war with Iran and Iraq. He cut off Iran’s arm in Iraq by killing Soleimani, eliminating the commander who changed the balance of power in Iraq against the United States, and gave Iran a serious message.
Effect of Suleiman’s assassination on Iran and the region
The death of Qasem Soleimani, on the one hand, was the beginning of a very difficult time for Iran. Iran lost its most influential figure in the Middle East and, in the words of Ali Khamanei, his arm in the Middle East was broken.
Iran has also been compelled to respond to the United States. Iran responded to Soleimani’s assassination by the operation of “Soleimani” but the response was to the United States for protecting the regime’s reputation within the country, rather than blow it. Contrary to the allegations, the rocket blows did not kill any American, and strangely, these rockets have been a source of peace.
According to an article published in Washington Post, these soft rocket blows gives a chance for the protection of Iran’s image and preventing war on both sides.
But despite all this, the death of Soleimani has once again demonstrated that the Iranian regime has a great social ground both in Iran and in the region.
In Iran, citizens have been involved in protests against the regime over the last few years. The biggest of these protests reportedly killed more than 300 civilians that took place on November 18, 2019, when gasoline prices rose up.
All of this shows that the regime’s cornerstones in Iran have been shaken. However, the killing of Soleimani formed the idea which united even opposition around the state in Iran.
Even Khamanei’s most ardent opponents have even posted social media messages to support the government and the regime. The death of Soleimani created a “war psychology” in Iranian citizens, which often aroused the sense of “unity and solidarity against the enemy” in the masses.
Meanwhile, hysteric divide on social media and a series of protests over killing of Soleimani in several countries of the region indicates that there is no doubt the assassination of General Soleimani united Iranian people but divided the region’s population on the basis of their faiths and religious school of thoughts.
Writer of this article Nejat İsmayilov is a political expert and journalist from Baku. The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.