Who was Qassem Soleimani? Know all About it - Seeker's Thoughts

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Who was Qassem Soleimani? Know all About it

A leader of the foreign wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qassem Soleimani was killed in U.S airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on 3rd January 2019. 
American president Trump authorized the airstrike that killed Soleimani, a top Iranian general who is considered one of the most revered military leader in the Islamic Republic.

In the direction of the president, the U.S military has taken decisive action to protect U.S personnel abroad by killing according to the U.S. Department of defense.


According to the U.S, Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iran and throughout the region.

This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.

According to the reports, Missiles fired by the drone struck a two-vehicle convoy on a road leading to the Baghdad International Airport.

Who was Qassem Soleimani?

Soleimani was the most powerful figure that is generally unknown outside Iran and the Middle East. He’s essentially Iran’s viceroy for Iraq.

He was born in 1957 and spent early nearly his entire adulthood in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which he joined after the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Soleimani rose to prominence during the 1980-88 Iran-Iran war, and by 2013 had become one of the most important figures in Iran.

He was named major general of the Quds Force in 1998 and ran until his death.

Quds force has no equivalent in the U.S but has been described as analogs to a combined CIA and Special Forces.

The Quds Force, which was estimated to consist of about 20,000 personnel, has been designated a terror group by the U.S. Since 2007.

To some U.S leaders, Soleimani has been considered as a shadowy figure, secretary of state Mike Pompeo referred to him as “dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu al-Baghdadi, who was killed in the U.S – led a raid in northwestern Syria in October 2019.

Iran has projected its power across the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen, and it has used a unique strategy of blending militant and state power, built-in part on the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Major general Qassem Soleimani was the architect of this strategy, people also called him -the most powerful general in the Middle East today.  Soleimani was repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate.


An Iraq official described Soleimani’s understated charisma to The New Yorker: “He is so short, but he has this presence. There will be ten people in a room, and when Soleimani walks in he doesn’t come and sit with you. He sits over there on the other side of the room, by himself, in a very quiet way. Doesn’t speak, doesn’t comment, just sits and listens. And so, of course, everyone is thinking only about him.”

Who stepped out to lead Iranian proxies?

A new Iranian general Esmail Ghaani has stepped out if the shadows to lead the country’s expeditionary Quds Force, becoming responsible for Tehran’s proxies across the Mideast as the Islamic Republic Threatens the U.S with “harsh revenge for killing its previous head, Gen Qassem Soleimani.

Ghaani, 62, Western sanctions suggest he is long been in a position of power in the organization. And likely one of his first duties will be to oversee whatever revenge Iran intends to seek for the U.S. airstrike early Friday that killed his long-time friend.
“We are children of war,” Ghaani once said of his relationship with Soleimani, according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. “We are comrades on the battlefield, and we have become friends in battle.”
The Guard has seen its influence grow ever stronger both militarily and politically in recent decades. Iran’s conventional military was decimated by the execution of its old officer class during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and later by sanctions.

A key driver of that influence comes from the elite Quds Force, which works across the region with allied groups to offer an asymmetrical threat to counter the advanced weaponry wielded by the U.S. and its regional allies. Those partners include Iraqi militiamen, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

In announcing Ghaani as Soleimani’s replacement, Khamenei called the new leader “one of the most prominent commanders” in service to Iran.

The Quds Force “will be unchanged from the time of his predecessor,” Khamenei said, according to IRNA.

Soleimani long has been the face of the Quds Force. His fame surged after American officials began blaming him for deadly roadside bombs targeting U.S. troops in Iraq.

 Images of him, long a feature of hard-line Instagram accounts and mobile phone lock screens, now plaster billboards calling for Iran to avenge his death.
But while Soleimani’s exploits in Iraq and Syria launched a thousand analyses, Ghaani has remained much more in the shadows of the organization. He has only occasionally come up in the Western or even Iranian media. But his personal story broadly mirrors that of Soleimani.

How it is likely to escalate to world war 3?

While some have described the killing of Soleimani as "a declaration of war" by the United States against Iran, it is important both not to overstate and to understate the significance of the moment.

But this could become a defining moment for the Middle East and for Washington's role in it. A significant Iranian retaliation is to be expected, and this could lead to a cycle of action and reaction that could bring the two countries ever closer to an all-out conflict.

Iran's response might be against US military interests in the region but equally it could be against any US-related target that Iran thinks vulnerable.

Is there any danger of Iran pushing a nuclear response?

No. Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme as such, though it retains many of elements that could contribute to such a programme and the know-how to proceed with one.

Iran has always insisted that it does not want the bomb. But could growing frustration with Washington persuade Iran to throw off all constraints and essentially abandon its nuclear agreement with the international community altogether? That is a possibility.

The Trump administration has already abandoned the so-called JCPOA agreement or Iran nuclear deal - many analysts might say recklessly - raising the pressure on Tehran but without any clear diplomatic "off ramp" to contain the tension.

What was the calculated risk?

A big question is why the Americans chose now to kill Soleimani.

He had been a thorn in their sides since at least the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He made sure Iraqi Shias raised, trained and equipped militias which became effective and ruthless fighters against the US and its allies.

The Americans and their allies in Israel and the West have tracked Soleimani closely for years. It's likely that he has been in their sights before.

The fact that this time the Americans pulled the trigger suggests that President Trump believes the reward is worth the risk, that the Iranian regime has been so weakened by isolation, economic sanctions and recent demonstrations that it will rage but not offer a serious strategic threat.

But it is not at all clear whether the assassination fits into a coherent US strategy, and such an assumption could be dangerous and wrong.

Soleimani was a colossal figure inside Iran. He was its strategic mastermind. Perhaps he left a plan of steps to take if he were killed.

This assassination at the start of a new year and a new decade might turn into another Middle Eastern milestone, touching off another sequence of bloody events.

To begin with, the Iranian regime must now be planning its answer to his death, to show that the position Soleimani spent so long creating outside its borders in the Middle East can be defended.

According to international law is it legal to kill someone like this?

The US would argue that Soleimani was responsible for unprovoked attacks on American forces in Iraq. Those forces were there at the request of the current Iraqi government.

Soleimani was a man whom Washington believed already had the blood of many US personnel on his hands. Meanwhile the Quds organisation he headed was seen by the US as a terrorist organisation. So his killing may follow a US legal narrative.
But the noted international legal scholar, Notre Dame Law School Prof Mary Ellen O'Connell, has this view of the legal implications: 
"Pre-emptive self-defence is never a legal justification for assassination. Nothing is. The relevant law is the United Nations Charter, which defines self-defence as a right to respond to an actual and significant armed attack,"

"The use of a drone to kill Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad was not in response to an armed attack on the United States. Iran has not attacked the sovereign territory of the United States,

"In this case, the United States has not only committed an extrajudicial killing, but it has also carried out an unlawful attack within Iraq."

What the UN says on these killings?

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply concerned by the rise in tensions in the Middle East.

"This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf," his spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in a statement.

US role – Iran and Iraq

Iran is a close ally of the Shia-led government in Iraq. It is also a significant player in the country in its own right, working through the militia groups mentioned above. The US has some 5,000 troops in Iraq, training and mentoring the Iraqi military in its effort to defeat the remaining IS elements.

Essentially these two outside players - the US and Iran - have been maneuvering against each other in Iraq.

One big question now is will a moment of crisis come that makes a continued US presence in the country untenable?

What are the Global reactions on Soleimani killing?

Global powers warned Friday that the American airstrike responsible for killing Iran’s top general made the world more dangerous and that escalation could set the entire Mideast aflame. Some U.S. allies suggested Iran shared in the blame by provoking the attack.

The deaths of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and several associates drew immediate cries for revenge from Tehran and a chorus of appeals from other countries seeking reduced tensions between Iran and the United States. As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called world capitals to defend the attack, diplomats tried to chart a way forward.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. He moved quickly to appoint Soleimani’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, as the new commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, which undertakes the country’s foreign campaigns, including in Syria and Yemen.

How does it impact India?

The US killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds through a drone strike on Friday has fuelled worries of tensions spiralling out of control. India sees the region as part of its extended neighborhood housing about 7 million expatriate Indians who send home valuable foreign remittance. It also a major source of energy for import-dependent India.

The strike that killed Soleimani, seen as an architect of Iran’s growing military influence in the West Asia, is expected to slow down India’s plans to develop the Chabahar port that New Delhi first spoke of turning into a gateway to access landlocked Central Asia and Afghanistan --bypassing hostile neighbor Pakistan -- in 2003.

 Analysts in India say Soleimanis killing is Washington’s way of retaliating in the proxy battle being fought in Iraq and Syria, between Iran-supported militias and US troops in the region. Earlier this week, the US embassy in Baghdad was stormed by the militias whose logistics and command and control centers in Syria and Iraq were hit by US airstrikes.

A senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,"

India’s immediate concern was the impact of tensions on international fuel prices that soared 4% on Friday. Brent crude futures jumped nearly $3 to hit a high of $69.16 a barrel, the highest since September while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.76, or 2.9%, to $62.94 a barrel. Earlier, it touched $63.84 a barrel, highest since 1 May. At present, India imports more than 80% of its fuel requirements.

With India’s GDP growing at a record low of 4.5% in the September quarter, there are serious concerns that high fuel prices could adversely impact its economic recovery. Though India does not import oil from Iran thanks to a new set of sanctions that came into effect in May, any unrest in the volatile region could impact imports from countries like Saudi Arabia given that most of the exports take place through the Straits of Hormuz – a narrow waterway carrying a fifth of the world’s traded oil -- that Iranian officials had in April threatened to block in retaliation for sanctions targeting the country’s oil industry. The US had then said it would move to stop any Iranian attempt to block the waterway. India had deployed naval assets in the region to protect its supplies in the wake of mine attacks on oil tankers. 

A secondary worry, according to officials, is that tensions between Iran and the US could impact India’s trade with the region that now stands at $ 78 billion (from Gulf Cooperation Council member countries ie Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) according to April-November figures from the Indian commerce ministry

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