Soleimani Was the Hardest of the Hardliners in Iran

Iran's General Qassem Soleimani was in America's cross-hairs for many years. He was the hardest of the hardliners in Tehran. He was very effective in his role as the head of the elite but ruthless Qods Force which is part of Iran's "Pasdaraan" (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps). He had made many powerful enemies, both at home and abroad. Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that his assassination was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots. American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani for their own reasons but without starting a real US-Iran war.

Soleimani Assassination: 

His assassination on President Donald Trump's orders last week brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of yet another major war in the Middle East as  Iran lobbed over a dozen missiles at two Iraqi airbases housing American troops. The world took a sigh of relief when Trump decided to not escalate the situation. At the same time, conspiracy theorists have speculated that the whole things was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots.  American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani without starting a real war.

Soleimani's assassination has raised many questions: Was it just President Trump who wanted the Qods Force chief dead? Are there others, particularly in Teheran, who are privately happy to see him gone? Was the general getting too big for his boots? Did some of the leaders in the Islamic Republic see his growing popularity and arrogance as a threat to their own power?  Let's try and address these questions.




Soleimani's Growing Popularity:

Polling data showed Soleimani was more popular than other major public figures, according to the Center for International Studies at the University of Maryland. It published a survey in 2018 that found Soleimani had a popularity rating of 83%, beating President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif. 

Soleimani vs Rouhani:

There were reports in 2018 of President Hassan Rouhani lashing out at Soleimani during a meeting with several senior IRGC officers in attendance,  accusing him of hiding the truth from the president and even from the supreme leader. Soleimani left the room in anger. Earlier, when the two met during Friday prayers, Soleimani warned the president about the “folly of not increasing the budget allotted to Quds.”

Soleimani vs Zarif:

Soleimani sat by Imam Khamenei’s side at key meetings, conveying his importance in the eyes of the spiritual leader. He met Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad in February 2019 together with the supreme leader — but without Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, triggering resignation threats by Iran's top diplomat.

Soleimani Threatened Pakistan:

In February, 2019, Soleimani threatened Pakistan. He boasted of Iran's "independent power and honor". He said:

"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries..... Iran enjoys independent power and honor. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure."

Soleimani's tone in this message to Pakistan is anything but "friendly".

Soleimani's Global Covert Ops:

In 2012, Indian investigators found that five members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were involved bombing of a car of the wife of the Israeli defense attache in New Delhi.  IRGC was also allegedly linked to a similar attack in Thailand. The 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 is believed to be IRGC's revenge in part for the 1992 killing of a Hezbollah leader.

Summary:

General Qassem Soleimani was the hardest of the hardliners.  As the head of the powerful and ruthless Qods Force, he made many powerful enemies at home and abroad.  Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that his assassination was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots.  American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani for their own reasons but without starting a real US-Iran war. He was part of Mullah regime in Iran that has ruined a great country by unnecessarily challenging the United States which they refer to as "Shaitan Buzurg" (Great Satan). Even their missiles paraded every year in the streets of Tehran have “Marg Bar Amrika” (Death to America)  painted on them. Iranian Ex President Ahmadinejad brought unwanted and unhelpful US attention when he threatened to nuke Israel. Even as Iranians are suffering due to US sanctions and poor governance by mullahs, Solemani was going around spending money supporting Shia militias to establish Iran as regional hegemon. These policies have badly hurt Iran and its people.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Iran-Pakistan Ties

Iran's Chabahar and Pakistan's Gwadar Ports

Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav Used Chabahar

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Did America Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#CIA Chief Gina Haspel reportedly pushed for #Soleimani's killing — and perfectly predicted #Iran's response. Was it staged? She advised #Trump that the threat Soleimani presented was greater than the threat of Iran's response if he was killed. https://news.yahoo.com/cia-director-gina-haspel-reportedly-151000127.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw via @Yahoo

The Trump administration reportedly knew exactly what would happen when it killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Okay, so it may have just been the prediction of CIA Director Gina Haspel that Iran would retaliate with airstrikes on Iraqi military bases holding U.S. troops. But it was partly based on her analysis that the U.S. decided to assassinate Soleimani in the first place, administration officials tell The New York Times:

In the days before General Suleimani’s death, Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran's response if he was killed, according to current and former American officials. Indeed, Ms. Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran to bases where American troops were deployed, the very situation that appeared to be playing out on Tuesday afternoon. [The New York Times]

The Times is careful to point out that "Haspel took no formal position about whether to kill General Soleimani," but "officials who listened to her analysis came away with the clear view that the C.I.A. believed that killing him would improve — not weaken — security in the Middle East." Read more at The New York Times.
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Iran says it 'unintentionally' shot down #Ukraine passenger airplane killing all 176 people on board. Iran had previously rejected suggestions that one of its #missiles brought down the plane near #Tehran on Wednesday. #UkrainianPlaneCrash https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51073621

Iran's military says it "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, Iran's state TV reports.

The statement said it had done so due to "human error" after the plane flew close to a sensitive site belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Those responsible would be held accountable, the statement said.

Iran had previously rejected suggestions that one of its missiles brought down the plane near the capital, Tehran, on Wednesday.

But pressure mounted after the US and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran had brought the plane down with a missile, possibly accidently.

The crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 with the loss of 176 lives came just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

The Ukrainian flight was headed to the Canadian city of Toronto via the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

US media have speculated that the airliner may have been mistaken for a warplane as Iran prepared for possible US retaliation.

Iran has promised a full investigation. However, TV images from the crash site on Thursday showed a mechanical digger helping to clear debris away, raising concerns that important evidence could have been removed.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran's #Soleimani used #Baloch militants against #Pakistan. Pakistan investigators believe April 18, 2019 killing of 14 #Pakistani Navy personnel on coastal highway at Buzzi Top was orchestrated by #IRGC's #QudsForce.

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/soleimani-used-baloch-militants-against-pakistan/1699967

New Delhi/Islamabad, Jan 3 (IANS) Iran''s most powerful military commander Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a US drone strike on Thursday in Baghdad had been secretly using Baloch militant groups against Pakistan.

According to a leaked letter of Pakistan''s ministry of foreign affairs, 14 personnel of Pakistan Armed Forces were killed recently by Baloch militants based in Iran. This was one of the several attacks orchestrated by Baloch militants shielded by Iranian intelligence chief and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Soleimani.

Intelligence sources told IANS that Pakistani forces were killed on April 18, 2019, weeks after 27 IRGC soldiers were killed by Pakistani terrorists on February 13. Soleimani had strongly lashed out at Pakistan after the killings of 27 Iranian revolutionary guards.

In their complaint to Iranian Embassy, Pakistan foreign ministry wrote, "15 to 20 terrorists who camouflaged themselves in Frontier Corps (FC) uniform barricaded the road and stopped 3 to 4 buses travelling from Ormara to Gwadar on the coastal highway at Buzi Top in the dawn of 18 April 2019 and on the identification of the passengers, shot down 14 personnel belonging to the Armed Forces of Pakistan. ''BRAS'' which is the alliance of three Baloch terrorist organisations have claimed responsibility for this terrorist act. After the incident, the terrorists who arrived from border region returned to that area."

Pakistan, the letter, pointed out, "has repeatedly shared intelligence about these activities. The information about the hubs of these Baloch terrorist organisations in Iran, having training camps and logistics bases across the border, was shared with Iranian intelligence in the recent past, and on a number of occasions earlier. Unfortunately, no action has been taken by Iran in this regard, to date."

Protesting against the killing of its forces, Pakistan, pleaded with Iran to act against the Baloch groups based in Iran, whose locations it had identified several times.
Riaz Haq said…
#Soleimani’s successor is an #Iranian #qudsforce officer with experience in fomenting trouble in #Afghanistan and #Pakistan. #Indian presence in Iranian port of #Chabahar is a threat to Pakistan’s security and strategic interests. #RAW #CPEC #Balochistan https://www.rusi.org/commentary/death-qassem-soleimani-what-expect-afghanistan-and-pakistan#.XiyKHgdEYig.twitter


Iran has traditionally supported and held stronger ties with the ethnic Hazara Shia community in Afghanistan. As the Hazaras suffered severe persecution during the Taliban days, they found a natural patron in Iran. Iran also exercised influence over Tajiks in Afghanistan, particularly in the western province of Herat which borders Iran. But the most spectacular aspect of this Iranian engagement was their courting of the Afghan Taliban who resurrected themselves as a powerful insurgent force challenging the authority of the Afghan government and NATO troops across the length and breadth of the country.

Recently disclosed pictures circulating in the Afghan media suggest that General Qaani was operating as the deputy ambassador of Iran to Afghanistan as late as 2018, a story which only emphasises his prime role in managing Iran’s Afghan policy. This does nothing to improve Iran’s relationship with Pakistan, which maintained strong links with the Taliban leadership and considered this incursion by the Iranians as an effort to weaken its hand within Afghanistan.

IRAN–PAKISTAN: A HISTORY OF TENSIONS
If Iranian manoeuvres in Afghanistan raised eyebrows in Islamabad, developments on the Iran–Pakistan border further weakened the bilateral relationship. The 2016 capture of the alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav, who entered Pakistan from Iran, was an eye-opener for Pakistan’s security establishment. The episode meant that the Pakistan–Iran border could not be considered a safe zone anymore, and the alleged Indian presence in the Iranian port of Chabahar was a potential threat to Pakistan’s security and strategic interests. It is highly unlikely that the Quds Force was unaware of these activities. Pakistan lodged a strong protest against this development with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and demanded that Iran was not used as a launch pad for actions against Pakistani national interests.

As Iran–Pakistan relations soured following the Kulbhushan affair, another issue involving the Quds Force came up on the radar of Pakistan’s security circles. This was the recruitment of Pakistani Shias to fight for the Bashar Al-Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. These fighters were grouped under a militia named Liwa Al-Zainabiyoun (or the Zainabiyoun Brigade). General Qaani was a central figure in this recruitment drive in Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities eventually clamped down on a charity organisation that was used as a front group for these activities.

Yet another episode where the Quds Force and the Pakistani authorities had a face-off was the border security situation across the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan and Pakistani Balochistan. The Jundullah, a Sunni Baloch separatist organisation, had waged a low-intensity insurgency within Sistan-Baluchestan, and although Pakistan helped Iran in apprehending its chief, Abdolmalek Regi, the bilateral distrust on the issue never went away. The deaths of 27 IRGC troops in an attack on their bus near the border town of Zahedan in early 2019 prompted a severe response from Iranian authorities. Soleimani cautioned the Pakistani government to stop cross-border terror attacks from its territory and vowed a strong response from Iran if significant progress hasn’t been made by Pakistan on the issue.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran VP Among 7 Officials to Have #Coronavirus. Others: Mojtaba Zolnour, head of Parliament’s national security committee; Mahmoud Sadeghi, member of Parliament; Iraj Harirchi, deputy health minister; Mayor Morteza Rahmanzadeh of Tehran & Dr. Reza Ghadir https://nyti.ms/2Vttta8

Masoumeh Ebtekar, President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for women’s affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, was at least the seventh Iranian official to test positive.

A senior figure in Iran’s government, who sits just a few seats away from President Hassan Rouhani at cabinet meetings, has fallen ill with coronavirus, making her Iran’s seventh official to test positive, including one prominent cleric who has died.

Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, Mr. Rouhani’s deputy for women’s affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, has a confirmed coronavirus infection and is quarantined at home, her deputy said Thursday.

The disclosure came a day after a cabinet meeting in which she was in close contact with other government leaders, including Mr. Rouhani. A photo posted by a BBC Persia reporter on Twitter showed she had been sitting a few yards from the president.

Ms. Ebtekar, one of four vice presidents, was known to Americans as “Mary” during the Tehran hostage crisis four decades ago, when, as a young revolutionary, she was a spokeswoman for the captors of the 52 Americans held at the United States Embassy.

Iran now appears to have the highest number of government officials infected by the coronavirus, which was first officially reported in the holy Iranian city of Qom on Feb. 19. The disease is believed to have spread to the country from China, which has maintained close economic relations with the Tehran government despite American sanctions.

A regional crossroads, Iran also appears to be a primary source of the infections that have spread to neighbors.

At least 245 people have been infected in Iran, with 26 deaths, Health Ministry officials said Thursday, most of them in Qom, a destination for Shiite pilgrims.

But health experts estimate the number of infections is far higher, possibly over a thousand, because the country’s fatality rate of about 20 percent seems so high. The World Health Organization has said the fatality rate is about 2 percent.

Cases surfacing in recent days in Bahrain, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Oman, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Kuwait all have afflicted people who had visited Iran. There were unconfirmed reports Thursday that Austria’s foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, was being tested for a coronavirus infection after returning home from Iran and showing symptoms.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran Buries 21 #Afghan, #Pakistani #Shia Proxy Fighters Killed In #Syria clashes in #Idlib. #Hezbollah also lost 8-14 fighters. 18 Pakistani Shiite fighters of Zeynabyoun Brigade and 3 members of Afghan Shiite Fatemyoun Brigade were buried in #Qom. https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-buries-21-afghan-pakistani-proxy-fighters-killed-in-syria/30462791.html

In intense clashes taking place in Syria’s Idlib province in recent days 21 members of Iran-backed Afghan and Pakistani militias were killed, Qom News an Iranian website has reported.

The report says 18 members of Pakistani Shiite fighters of Zeynabyoun Brigate and three members of Afghan Shiite Fatemyoun Brigade died in battles.

As Iran became deeply involved in the Syrian civil war it organized proxy forces to do the dangerous ground fighting, while Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) officers and advisers largely provided command and support to a variety of forces.

The burial ceremony of those killed took place on Sunday, March 1 in Iran’s holy city of Qom.

Forces loyal to Syria’s strongman Bashar Assad intensified their attacks on Idlib in recent weeks to defeat rebel forces and take back control. Turkey, which provides support, including diplomatic backing to Syrian rebels intervened to defend a disengagement line agreed with Russia and Assad in 2018.

An air attack, which killed scores of Turkish forces on February 27, led to military retaliation by Ankara against pro-Assad forces, possibly including Iran-backed fighters.

Iran’s ally Hezbollah also lost 8-14 fighters on Friday, based on different estimates, and thousands gathered in Beirut for their burial on Sunday.

Turkey downed two Syrian fighter jets on Sunday as it continued attacks on pro-Syrian forces. However, Ankara reiterated that it has no desire to confront Russian forces in Syria.

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