Soleiman’s death undermines moderates in Iran

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The killing of senior Iranian military general Qasem Soleimani in an American drone airstrike has put moderate politicians in Iran at the center of the storm amid mounting tensions with Washington.

Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elite force, Quds, was killed Friday in an airstrike ordered by US President Donald Trump near the Baghdad airport.

His death led to a dramatic escalation in tensions between the US and Iran, which have often been exacerbated since Trump decided in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw Washington from the nuclear program pact with Iran.

“At the moment, the Iranian political elite is shrinking after the assassination of General Soleimani, but certainly the moderates have lost credibility in the eyes of the conservative establishment,” Iranian-American historian and author Pouya Alimagham told AA.

The killing has provoked widespread public outrage by sparking protests in Iran amid growing opposition to any attempt at dialogue and reconciliation with the US.

“Those who still talk about deals and pacts and call for talks with the traitors (the US and its allies) will not be forgiven by history,” one protester told AA during a rally in Tehran on Saturday.

“Today, we are all Soleimani and that means unwavering resistance against arrogant powers,” he said.

Alimagham said that the fact that Trump disrupted the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions on Iran, it thereby strengthened conservatives and undermined moderates.

“All of Trump’s reasoning was based on the assumption that he could reach a better deal. While this was largely unattainable before Soleiman’s assassination, it is now impossible,” he said.

According to Alimagham, the nuclear deal is now “removed from intensive care equipment and is dead and buried.”

Calls for revenge

Hamidreza Azizi, a professor at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, thinks hardline dichotomy in Iranian politics will no longer be important after Soleiman’s death.

“All political factions are now taking an anti-American stance,” he told AA.

“But it is too early to predict the impact of the latest incident on Iran’s domestic policy direction and the fate of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration,” he said.

Rouhani, a moderate politician, was the architect of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

While Iranians are rallying for “revenge”, tensions have alarmingly escalated in the region, with some countries trying to keep Iran from any retaliatory action against the US.

On Saturday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Tehran and held talks with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif.

Although Iranian authorities did not release details of the talks, sources said the Qatari minister has asked Tehran to be restrained after Soleiman’s assassination.

On Friday, Iran’s top security body pledged “severe retaliation” at “the right time and the right place” for Soleimani’s assassination.

Soleiman’s body arrived in the southern city of Ahvaz from Iraq on Sunday and moved to Mashhad for the ceremony to be held on Monday.

The Pentagon accused Soleiman of plotting an attack on the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, and was planning to carry out further attacks on US diplomats and staff in Iraq and the region.


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