UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, has helped his country fight proxy wars across the Middle East by inspiring faction fighters in the field and negotiating with political leaders.
His killing on Friday in a US air strike targeting his motorcade at Baghdad airport marks the end of a man who was referred to as Lebanon in his country, and is closely monitored by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Pentagon said the strike was aimed at deterring any Iranian plans for future attacks.
Soleimani was responsible for covert operations abroad and was often seen on the battlefield as he directed Iraqi Shiite groups in the war against the Islamic State.
Soleimani was killed along with the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. The two men are considered heroes in the battle of Iran against its enemies, and the people of the state television have praise and praise upon the announcement of their death.
The television showed footage of him with the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and in war zones, wearing military uniforms, as well as footage of him, a newly graduated high school student and leading a unit during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Soleimani’s star soon rose to the ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to become the commander of the Quds Force, a position in which Iran helped forge alliances in the Middle East at a time when it was under pressure as a result of US sanctions that severely damaged its economy.
The United States designated the Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization in 2019, as part of a campaign to exert maximum pressure to compel Iran to negotiate its ballistic missile program and nuclear policy.
Soleimani had a decisive response in this regard: any negotiations with the United States would be “complete surrender”.
The Quds Force mobilized support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when he appeared close to defeat in the civil war raging since 2011 and helped armed factions defeat the Islamic State in Iraq.
Thanks to the successes of the Quds Force, Soleimani became a pivotal figure in the steady expansion of Iran’s influence in the Middle East, which the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel found difficult to rein in.
Khamenei appointed Soleimani as commander of the Quds Force in 1998, a position he held behind the scenes for years while strengthening Iran’s ties to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad government, and Shiite factions in Iraq.
Over the past few years, his reputation has grown at a time when fighters and leaders in Iraq and Syria have been posting photos of him in the field and on social media, always showing a trimmed beard and carefully styled hair.
– “We are close to you” –
Soleimani’s influence inside the Iranian military became evident in 2019 when he was awarded by Khamenei (Wissam Zulfikar), the highest military honor in Iran. It was the first time that a military commander had been awarded this medal since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
In a statement after Soleimani’s death, Khamenei said violent retaliation was awaiting the “criminals” who killed him. He added that although Suleiman’s killing “makes us bitter”, it will double the incentive to resist the United States and Israel.
“Soleimani … was not a man sitting at an office,” a former senior Iraqi official, who asked not to be named, said in a 2014 interview. Rather, he goes to the fronts to inspect the soldiers and witness the battles. ”
“Only the supreme leader is ahead of him in the chain of command. When he needs the money he gets it, when he needs the ammunition he gets it and when he needs the equipment he gets it. ”
Soleimani was also responsible for the information gathering and covert military operations carried out by the Quds Force and in 2018 he publicly challenged U.S. President Donald Trump.
He said in a video posted on the Internet, “I tell you, Mr. Trump, the gambler … I tell you … know that we are close to you in a place where it does not occur to you that we are.”
– “Get what he wants” –
Soleimani grew up in a simple farming family in the town of Labour in southeastern Iran, where he was born on March 11, 1957.
At the age of thirteen, he traveled to Kerman and worked in the construction field to help his father pay off his debts, according to Soleimani himself in a report published on the Dewa Press website that specializes in the history of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.
When the Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah in 1978, Soleimani was working in the water department of the municipality of Kerman and organized protest demonstrations against the Shah.
Soleimani volunteered in the Revolutionary Guards after the war with Iraq exploded in 1980, and he soon rose to his ranks, then participated in fighting drug traffickers on the border with Afghanistan.
“Soleimani is a great listener,” said a second Iraqi official. It does not impose itself. But he always gets what he wants. ”
At the height of the civil war between Sunni and Shiite militants in Iraq in 2007, the US military accused the Quds Force of supplying Shi’ite factions with explosive devices that killed many American soldiers.
Soleimani played a pivotal role in Iraqi security through various factions that General David Petraeus, the commander in chief of US forces in Iraq at that time, sent letters to him through Iraqi officials, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
After the referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, Soleimani issued a warning to Kurdish leaders that led to the withdrawal of fighters from disputed locations and allowed the central government forces to assert their authority.
He is said to have had more influence in Syria. His visit to Moscow in the summer of 2015 was the first step in planning the Russian military intervention that changed the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian-Russian alliance to support Assad.
His activity made him a frequent target of the US Treasury, as the United States imposed sanctions on him because of the Quds Force’s support for the Lebanese Hezbollah group and other armed factions and his role in the violent Syrian response to protesters and what was reported about his role in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
A report published by the New York Times in 2018 says that senior officials in Saudi intelligence studied the possibility of assassinating Soleimani in 2017.
The newspaper said a Saudi government spokesman declined to comment, but Israeli military officials have publicly discussed the possibility of targeting him.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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