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Why the Fuss about Qassem Soleimani?

January 3, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Qasem Soleimani (right), commander of the Quds Force, with Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei

Friday, 3 January 2020 | The tension between the United States and Iran exploded early this morning when a US strike took out the Western world’s Iranian public enemy number one in Baghdad.

After the Iranian-backed Hashed force stormed the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, screaming “Death to America,” burning US flags and hurling rocks, Trump fired back on Twitter: “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

Then he fired back with an air strike, killing Qassem Soleimani and six others at the airport in Baghdad.

Who was Qassem Soleimani and why is his death important?

Soleimani was a major-general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in charge of the Quds Force, which deals with military and intelligence operations outside Iran’s borders.

“Quds is a highly confidential force,” said former Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) Director Tamir Pardo, quoted by Ynetnews. “Its activities are completely disconnected from the official Iranian system, and it has built its cells across the world in a secret and covert manner, at least until the earth started moving in the Middle East [beginning in 2011 with the anti-government Arab Spring.] Its main goal is to export the revolution and encourage Islamic elements around the world.”

Born in 1957 and raised in the mountains of southeastern Iran, Soleimani joined the IRGC in 1979 after Ayatollah Khomeini emerged victorious from the Iranian Revolution, quickly and skillfully working his way up the ranks until he was placed in charge of the Quds division around 1998.

A close confidante of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, Soleimani—described as a charismatic, skilled diplomat—began building proxy bases across the Middle East with two goals in mind: to expand Tehran’s range of influence across the region and to entrench Iran within the nations surrounding the borders of Israel. Soleimani worked closely with Hezbollah, a terrorist army operating on Iran’s behalf in Lebanon as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas—two terror entities operating mainly out of the Gaza Strip whose openly sworn goals are to wipe Israel off the map and create a Palestinian state “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.”

In fact, most of the violent anti-Israel action in and around the Jewish state—terror attacks, rockets, missiles, kidnappings and killings—trace back to Iran, and ultimately to Soleimani. His Quds force created an entire unit within Hezbollah, for example, dedicated to orchestrating terror attacks on Israel.

With the rise of the Syrian Civil War, Soleimani seized the opportunity to snatch real estate right next door to Hezbollah, propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and establishing another Iranian foothold on Israel’s northern border.

His influence tentacled throughout the Middle East, both in political arms and military and guerilla outlets of Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. Not one to be chained to a desk far away from the action, Soleimani has been photographed in humble khaki in the deserts and battlegrounds across the Middle East—gaining him popularity within Iran rivalling Supreme Leader Khameini’s.

After surviving dozens of attempted assassinations over the last few decades by Israel and enemies from Western and Arab nations, Soleimani was perceived as untouchable—an illusion that was blown away by a US air strike in Baghdad early Friday morning.

Posted on January 3, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 3, 2020)

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