There could be more to Qassem Soleimani’s assassination than meets the eye
The leaked diplomatic cables of the Islamic clergy regime of Iran published in the New York Times last year provides a rare glimpse leading to a spectacular drone attack killing of Iran’s top military commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, of the shadowy elite Quds Force.
The cables show how tensions arose between Iranian intelligence units as Soleimani, the influential military commander who has expertise in exporting proxy wars in the Middle-east with full knowledge of the Islamic clergies in Tehran.
At one point, agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (the Iranian version of the CIA), feared that Iran’s gains in Iraq were being squandered because Iraqis resented the militias.
Above all, they blamed Soleimani, criticizing him for posting photos on social media publicizing his role in the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq-Syria (IS or Daesh).
Nevertheless, in 2015, Soleimani came under criticism for his management of the war against IS in Iraq, which resulted in his authority being curtailed temporarily.
He also failed to persuade Iraqi Kurds to let him move weapons and troops through their autonomous zone in order to assist the Syrian army in Syria’s civil war, despite his close ties with the Kurdish government.
Iran’s much-revered hero of the Quds Force had also been criticized for his management of the war in Syria.
He, in turn, had repeatedly accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of mismanaging the war and complained that Syrian army officers don’t listen to his advice.
A blue-eyed boy of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei grew in notoriety in instigating proxy wars in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf states who are staunch allies of the US, the number one public enemy of Iran.
The grey-haired commander was the mastermind of recruitment, training, and mobilization of thousands of Islamic militias from Gaza to Lebanon, Iraq to Yemen with a strategic objective to punish the countries Iran hated the most.
The continued rise of Hezbollah, the most powerful armed force in Lebanon; Iran’s decisive intervention to prop up Assad in Syria’s civil war; the ongoing resistance of Yemen’s Houthi militias to joint Saudi Arabian and Emirati forces, the ascendance of Shia militias in Iraq -- each of these achievements could be attributed to the military commander born to a poor farming family in 1957.
The extraordinary success in reshaping the region in the wake of the Iraq war in 2003 and the Syrian revolution had made him confident of his clandestine missions in the region, which was hated by top brasses in Pentagon and white-collar advisers in the White House.
Notwithstanding the notoriety, Soleimani was silently appreciated by Western countries on the war against terror when his paramilitary forces liquidated IS in Iraq and Syria. The US precision drone strikes in Baghdad on January 3, killed not just one of the most influential men in Iran, but also in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Many security specialists believe that several sources of intelligence tips could have come from insiders, from commanders of Iraq or Iran providing the exact location and itinerary converging to a definite kill.
Surely the tactical drone with a payload of two laser-guided rockets had to be positioned hours before in the skies of Baghdad airport, with a command centre in Nevada taking a decisive decision from precise intel tips.Some security experts are definite that the tips for the digital battle could have only come from senior commanders overzealous of Soleimani’s success in proxy wars.
The wide range of authorization from the clergy regime in Tehran, which bypassed the military hierarchy from defense procurement to unlimited doles to the militias, caused irk to some.
Since the drone strike in Baghdad, the 40-year-old US-Iran conflict has shifted to a dangerous path, with no U-turn for years to come.
In a typical Bollywood movie, like a warlord issuing a public warning to President Donald Trump that may prove correct, writes the London Guardian newspaper: “Trump the gambler, I’m telling you, know that we are close to you in that place you don’t think we are,” he said, wagging his finger and dressed in olive fatigues. “You will start the war but we will end it.”
Living in exile, Amir Taheri, former executive editor-in-chief of Iran’s conservative newspaper Daily Kayhan, tweeted: “Making too much noise about Qassem Soleimani’s death shouldn’t divert our [Iranian] attention from reality. We must remain focused on our real goal: The dissolution of the Islamic Republic [of Iran].”
Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, and recipient of Ashoka Fellow and Hellman-Hammett Award.