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The strike on Iran’s Soleimani

The strike on Iran’s Soleimani
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Updated 02 June 2020

The strike on Iran’s Soleimani

The strike on Iran’s Soleimani

For many in the region, Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, was no different to Osama bin Laden

Summary

On Jan. 3, 2020, missiles from a US Reaper drone struck two vehicles leaving Baghdad International Airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, the feared commander of Iran’s clandestine Quds Force, and nine others.

For over two decades Soleimani had been the architect of Iran’s violent meddling throughout the region, responsible for countless thousands of deaths in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

In the words of an Arab News editorial the day after his death, in “spreading the malign influence of the mullahs and their revolution to anyone foolish enough to listen” Soleimani had “brought death and destruction to a vast swath of the Middle East and beyond.”

When death came in turn for Soleimani, accused by the US of being behind a series of attacks on American interests in Iraq, those who died alongside him included four other members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, commander of the Iranian-backed Iraqi terrorist organization Kata’ib Hezbollah.

US President Donald Trump on Jan. 3 this year ordered a game-changing military attack that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani was accompanied by Iraqi militia leaders, including Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who was also killed in the attack. The US Department of Defense justified the attack by claiming that Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

The death of Soleimani marked the first time that the US had deliberately killed a top Iranian official. Without doubt, the move shocked and weakened the theocratic establishment of Iran, as Soleimani was considered the country’s most powerful man after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

It is virtually impossible to imagine that the Islamic Republic could have gained such influence in the region and built such a vast and mighty network of proxies, militias and terror groups without Soleimani. The general even admitted, when he wrote a rare message to US Gen. David Petraeus: “You should know that I, Qassem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who is going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”

The death of Soleimani has had significant implications in the region, tipping the balance of power against Tehran and ridding the Middle East of a top terror leader.

For many in the region, Soleimani was no different to Osama bin Laden. In fact, he was more dangerous in some respects because he operated under the legitimacy of a state, ruled over a powerful military organization with tens of thousands of members, and had a budget of billions of dollars to advance his fundamentalist objectives.

Key Dates


  • 1

    Soleimani reportedly meets with militia allies in Baghdad to plan fresh assaults on US interests in Iraq using Iranian-supplied rockets and missiles.


  • 2

    A US contractor dies in a rocket attack on the K-1 airbase in Kirkuk, Iraq, one of a series of attacks in Iraq blamed by Washington on the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia.

    Timeline Image Dec. 27, 2019


  • 3

    US counter-attacks on five Kata’ib Hezbollah bases in Iraq and Syria kill 25 militiamen, including several senior commanders.

    Timeline Image Dec. 29, 2019


  • 4

    Kata’ib Hezbollah supporters attempt to storm the US embassy compound in Baghdad. President Donald Trump holds Iran “fully responsible.”


  • 5

    With “clear, unambiguous intelligence” that Soleimani had approved the Kirkuk rocket attack and was planning a series of further outrages, Trump approves a drone strike.


  • 6

    Soleimani and nine others die in a US drone strike in Baghdad.


  • 7

    Iran fires missiles at two airbases in Iraq where US forces are stationed. There are no casualties. However, a Ukrainian airliner leaving Tehran for Kiev is shot down.

    Timeline Image Jan, 8, 2020


  • 8

    Anti-government protesters in Tehran call for leaders to quit after Iran admits its forces shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by accident.

    Timeline Image Jan. 11, 2020

Soleimani was masterful in carrying out extraterritorial operations, including organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing predominantly Shiite militia groups. He prioritized launching wars directly or indirectly via his proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance the regime’s ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and plotting the assassination of foreign political figures and powerful Iranian dissidents worldwide.

“So let there be no tears shed for Qassem Soleimani; he must have known that he could not get away with his crimes forever, and that he would not die in his bed.”

Faisal J. Abbas in Arab News, Jan. 4, 2020

For example, under his leadership, the Quds Force was accused of failed plans to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the US, and to assassinate then-Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir. The Quds Force also encouraged unrest in Iraq by providing deadly, sophisticated bombs that killed many people, including Iraqis and Americans. An investigation also revealed that Soleimani’s Quds Force was behind the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In addition, Soleimani’s death undermined other non-Shiite extremist groups in the region because he was successful at making alliances with the likes of Al-Qaeda. For instance, while under Soleimani’s rule, Iran’s military was implicated in the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, US Federal Judge George Daniels issued an order stating that senior leaders of the Quds Force, Iran’s Lebanese Shiite proxy Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda were jointly responsible for the attacks. Iran provided “safe harbor for some Al-Qaeda leaders,” while “the (Quds) Force’s senior leaders have longstanding ties to Al-Qaeda and, since the fall of Afghanistan, have provided some Al-Qaeda leaders with travel documents and safe haven,” according to a European intelligence analyst. Christopher Harmer, a retired US Navy commander, told The New York Times that Soleimani is “a more stately version of Osama bin Laden.”




A page from the Arab News archive showing the news on Jan. 4 2020.

Based on my research at Harvard University, there are more than 250 terrorist groups worldwide, with many different religious and sociopolitical backgrounds. During Soleimani’s rule, about 25 percent of these were funded, trained or supported by his organization. This may explain why terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda did not attack Iran.

The ruling clerics lost an irrepressible general because Soleimani had developed deep personal connections with the leaders of many militia groups across the region over the past four decades. He and the Quds Force infiltrated top security, political, intelligence and military infrastructures in several nations, including Syria and Iraq. He had a major say in which foreign leaders and politicians ruled in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, and he had operatives and agents worldwide.

Soleimani’s death not only inflicted irreparable damage on Iran’s theocratic establishment, but it also rid the Middle East of its most dangerous man. Nevertheless, the Iranian regime will continue to do whatever it can to pursue its hegemonic ambitions and military adventurism in the region.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh


Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
Updated 29 min 16 sec ago

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
  • Turkey’s Karadeniz supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Karadeniz, which supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges, told Beirut to halt action by the Lebanese prosecutor to seize its vessels and said it must draw up a plan to settle arrears to avoid a cut in supplies, a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson for Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz that operates floating power plants, was speaking on Tuesday after Lebanon’s Finance Ministry cited a lawmaker saying the country had been threatened with a cut to its supplies.
A Lebanese prosecutor issued a decision last week to seize the barges and fine the firm after TV channel Al-Jadeed reported corruption allegations tied to the power contract. The firm denies the charges and says it has not been paid for 18 months.


Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday
Updated 44 min 19 sec ago

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday
  • Sweden of 10 million inhabitants registered 44 new deaths, taking the total to 14,217
  • The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks

STOCKHOLM: Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 13,812 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed on Tuesday.
The figure compared with 14,950 cases during the corresponding period last week.
The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 44 new deaths, taking the total to 14,217.
The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.
Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbors’ but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.


Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
Updated 49 min 14 sec ago

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
  • Revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551million

RIYADH: Suez Canal revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551 million compared to a year earlier, Asharq Business reported, citing Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie.
Rabie also discussed plans to expand and deepen the southern sector of the canal in which the container ship Ever Given was stuck in March, creating chaos across the global supply chain.
That incident which brought a large proportion of seaborne trade to a near halt for a week, highlighted the need to ensure the  smooth operation of the key trade artery.
Rabie also revealed plans for dredging works for the maintenance of the navigational channel of the canal.
A plan is being implemented to restructure the authority’s companies, he said.
This year witnessed a slight increase in the number of ships passing through the waterway to 1,840 in April 2021 from 1,731 in April 2020, Al Arabiya reported.


Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
Updated 11 May 2021

Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: Renowned US fantasy author Brent Weeks, US author Tayari Jones, Emirati writer Eman Alyousuf and Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai are all set to participate at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the 30th edition of ADIBF will see the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries around the world, and will comprise more than 104 virtual and physical sessions.

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “Despite the challenges we have faced in the wake of the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is committed to ramping up its efforts to support the publishing industry and to promote cross-cultural dialogue. We are proud to host this event which reinforces our position as one of the most prominent intellectual and literary forums in region, and gives us the opportunity to highlight Arab literary output while simultaneously celebrating the pioneers of arts and culture from across the world.”

As part of its cultural programme, the fair will feature the artistic and literary works of authors and artists from multiple fields. Among those will be American author Tayari Jones, considered one of the most important writers of her generation, who will hold a session to discuss her latest work. In another session, the fantasy great Weeks will talk about the importance of science fiction novels in transporting readers away from the monotony of their daily lives. Providing a regional perspective, Kuwait’s Alrefai will participate in a dialogue with Emirati writer Alyousuf, to discuss how the pandemic has encouraged reading.

British television presenter and historian Bettany Hughes will join a conversation about the impact of plagues and pandemics on civilisations, while Emirati writer Sultan Al-Amimi will speak about with the importance of short stories and their role in enhancing literary diversity. .


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 40 min 33 sec ago

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.