Assassinated on January 3, 2020, in a cowardly drone strike, directly ordered by Donald Trump, the outgoing White House dweller, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had a substantial role in defending Iran against its enemies, and assisting the countries in region in the battle against terror.
This is a glance at his anti-terror efforts and the work he did toward eradicating the terrorist groups from the region – the terrorists who enjoy Western patronage.
Anti-terror figure, national hero
General Soleimani was viewed by the freedom-seeking people as the key figure in the West Asia battles that led to the collapse of Daesh, the world’s most notorious terror group. He was a peace champion, a leading regional force against the scourge of Daesh and likeminded terrorist outfits.
Soleimani started his military career by joining the IRGC following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
During the imposed Iraqi war on Iran, which was launched in 1980 and lasted for eight years, Soleimani gradually became known as an adept commander, leading Iranian troops in numerous battles against the Western-backed Ba’ath regime forces.
A man of his words
When foreign-backed Takfiri outfits reared their ugly heads, the IRGC commander emerged as a key strategist and ingenious commander, leading Iranian military advisers assisting Syrian and Iraqi troops in the fight.
The general was frequently pictured on the frontlines during anti-terrorism operations from Iraq’s Mosul to Syria’s Aleppo.
In Iraq, at the height of the Daesh campaign, he assisted Baghdad in operations to retake the strategic oil-rich city of Tikrit in 2015.
The head of Iraq’s Badr Organization credited Tehran and Soleimani with saving Baghdad when Daesh first unleashed its campaign in Iraq in a year earlier.
In an interview with Sky News Arabic in 2014, when Daesh overran the Kurdish-populated northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, then President of Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani said Iran was the first country to provide Iraq’s embattled Kurdish region with weapons to fight off the terrorist group.
In November 2017, Soleimani declared the end of Daesh in a letter addressed to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Last year, Soleimani gave an insight on his role in defending Lebanon during the 2006 Israeli war on the Arab country. Iran’s support for resistance movements such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah is an imperative in the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy.
Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has time and again hailed Iran as the center of a ‘major camp’ headed by Ayatollah Khamenei against the US and Israel.
Last year, the Leader awarded Soleimani with Iran’s highest military order, the Order of Zulfaqar.
Hailed both by the enemies and foes as a major military tactician, General Soleimani topped Foreign Policy (FP)’s 2019 list of Global Thinkers in defense and security. It placed General Soleimani on top of the list of the most influential people in the defense and security sector.
A short write-up on the senior Iranian commander described him as the “public face of Iran’s response to US President Donald Trump’s threats.”
General Soleimani made headlines in July 2018, when he delivered a blistering response to an all-caps tweet addressed to President Hassan Rouhani, in which Trump had issued a military threat against the Islamic Republic.
The US president had threatened Iran with actions “the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”
In a fiery speech, the senior general responded, “Trump! You must not threaten our nation and must not insult our president… You have got to know what you are talking about; ask your predecessors and mark their experiences,” General Soleimani emphasized.
“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine… Come! We are ready. We are the man of this arena. You know that this war would mean annihilation of all your means. You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it.”
Vicious triangle of US, Israeli and Saudi plots to assassinate Soleimani
Several reports had already emerged about assassination plots against the commander by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are believed to be among the major supporters of terrorists wreaking havoc in West Asia.
In November 2018, the New York Times reported that Saudi Major General Ahmed al-Assiri took part in a meeting in Riyadh in 2017 that involved plans to assassinate the kingdom’s “determined enemy.”
In October 2019, Yossi Cohen, the director of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, had acknowledged having a “prestigious” assassination list at his disposal, claiming that targeting foreign influential figures, including Soleimani, was “not impossible.”
A report by the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida also said Washington gave Israel the green light to assassinate Soleimani.
In the January 3 drone strike, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and eight other companions were also martyred.
US media reports revealed details of the assassination, saying the terrorist operation used Israeli intelligence and was run from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Qatar.
The Trump administration openly claimed responsibility.
Iran’s declared three days of national mourning.
Ayatollah Khamenei has said severe vengeance in due time awaits the perpetrators.
Before the funeral ceremony – which was attended by crowds in millions across several cities – the IRGC responded to the assassination, striking the American airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq and another in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Observers maintained that the Trump administration’s action would make the region less safe, and that it was an act of war, the highest of high crimes under international law, turning millions of Iranians, Iraqis, others in the region, and elsewhere into raging US haters for good reason.
General Soleimani’s legacy lives on
Millions of mourners thronged the streets in Iran’s southeastern city of Kerman, the hometown of Soleimani, to attend a final funeral. That came after massive processions in the cities of Ahvaz, Mashhad, Tehran and Qom, as well as the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf.
Ayatollah Khamenei recently recalled the million-strong funerals, saying the “unforgettable” ceremonies “surprised the arrogance’s soft war generals and served as a first severe slap in the face of the Americans.”
The Leader said a tougher slap would come by expelling the United States from the region through the joint efforts of countries that are part of the resistance front.
He said General Soleimani possessed “wisdom, ingenuity, [readiness for] sacrifice and altruism” and was a man of spirituality and sincerity, not hypocrisy.