Soleimani's Death Derails Iran's Regional Momentum

(Guardian-UK) Martin Chulov - On Jan. 3, Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force and the most powerful man in Iraq, was killed together with nearly all of his closest aides. Interviews with seven people familiar with the immediate aftermath of the deadly U.S. airstrike have revealed a scene of chaos and dysfunction. "There were 11 bodies pulled from the wreckage," said one official. "We are talking about the entire inner sanctum of the Quds Force. This wasn't just Hajj Qasem [Soleimani] and Abu Mahdi [al-Muhandis]. This was everyone who mattered to them in Iraq and beyond." The loss of Soleimani and his entourage has derailed much of Iran's momentum in the region. While the Iranian leadership sought to regroup, there have been recriminations about how Soleimani and his entourage were able to be killed in the first place. Two senior sources in Beirut say Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah agreed to help fill the void left by the deaths of Soleimani and Muhandis. But there were limits to what he could do. He had lived a life even more in the shadows than the Iranian general, and a drone strike was unlikely to make him feel safer. Traveling to Iraq, or Syria, to rally troops was going to be a non-starter. Instead, Iran's proxy networks would need to travel to Lebanon.

2020-02-20 00:00:00

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