The Assassination of Qassem Soleimani — Seems to be a Massive Strategic Gamble for the U.S
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The Assassination of Qassem Soleimani — Seems to be a Massive Strategic Gamble for the U.S

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: The file photo of Qassem Soleimani / Source: IRNA

Image Attribute: The file photo of Qassem Soleimani / Source: IRNA

On January 3, 2020, the United States killed the most powerful commander of Iran's elite Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike near Baghdad airport. He has been repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate in Iran. 

The assassination of Soleimani is the direct result of a dramatic escalation of hostilities between the United States and Iran. US struck an Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria that Washington blamed for repeated attacks on Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops. A mob that included pro-Iran paramilitary groups attacked the U.S. Embassy after those U.S. bombings before withdrawing on January 1.

According to the Pentagon, Trump ‘directed’ the assassination to ‘deter future Iranian attacks’.

The 62-year-old Soleimani was the target of Friday’s U.S. attack, which was conducted by an armed American drone, according to a U.S. official. His vehicle was struck on an access road near the Baghdad airport. The airstrike took place near the cargo area after Soleimani left his plane and joined al-Muhandis and others in a car. The official said the plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria.

RFE/RL Graphics

The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, Iraqi officials said.

Two officials from the PMF said Suleimani’s body was torn to pieces in the attack, while they did not find the body of al-Muhandis. A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore.

Although revered in his home country and feared on battlefields across the Middle East, Soleimani remains virtually unknown in the West. It can be said that today’s Iran cannot be fully understood without first understanding of Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani began his military career at the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, during which he commanded the 41st Tharallah Division. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, and later Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots. 

Soleimani also assisted in the command of the combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015. While a U.S.-led coalition focused on airstrikes, several ground victories for Iraqi forces came with photographs emerging of Soleimani leading, never wearing a flak jacket.

Soleimani was first designated a terrorist and sanctioned by the United States in 2005 for his role as a supporter of terrorism. In October 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department linked Soleimani to the failed Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States at a popular restaurant in Washington, DC.

Overall, this assassination seems to be a massive strategic gamble for the U.S. For Soleimani was the second most powerful figure in Iran, answering only to the Ayatollah himself. For more than a decade he has been the architect of Iran’s regional military strategy. Among the Iranian masses, he was a hero like no other. And, on top of that, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the attack and said it would "light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.” Now, it's a wait and watch situation.

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