Qasem Soleimani, Who Connected All the Dots in Iran's Strategy, Targeted in Baghdad

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shimon Shapira and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - Iran's propaganda trumpets are presenting Qasem Soleimani as a Shiite version of a saint whose martyrdom deserves religious glorification. Soleimani trained, armed, and provided funds to terror organizations and used Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and Hizbullah instructors, as Iran's national security policy sought to distance the frontlines from Iran's own borders. At the same time, Iran strove to place the jihadi front as close as possible to Israel's borders on the Golan Heights, Lebanon, and Gaza, and close to its rival, Saudi Arabia (by aiding the Houthis in Yemen), and to Shiite areas ruled by Sunnis (such as Bahrain). Soleimani helped save the Assad regime in Syria by establishing a "Shiite foreign legion" of more than 100,000 Afghani, Pakistani, Iraqi, and Lebanese Hizbullah fighters. The price to Hizbullah for Iran's success in Syria was more than 2,000 Hizbullah fighters killed and 8,000 wounded. In 2016, when Mustafa Badreddine, the commander of Hizbullah forces in Syria, objected to the overuse of Hizbullah fighters in Syrian battles under Iranian command, Soleimani personally murdered Badreddine near the Damascus airport, according to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. Soleimani's instructing militias to invade the American Embassy compound in Baghdad was an arrogant move that did not take into account the American national trauma of the 2012 invasion of the American Embassy in Benghazi (and the murder of four Americans), as well as the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran. It is clear to the Iranians that the United States could, if it chooses, threaten key regime assets and even the regime itself. Therefore, the Iranian regime will probably not hurry to respond in a way that could bring the unprecedented destruction of its energy infrastructure and endanger the regime. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira served as military-secretary to the Prime Minister and as chief of staff to the Foreign Minister. Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall is an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran. Both are senior research fellows at the Jerusalem Center.

2020-01-08 00:00:00

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