Click on the number for more info

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

The strike on Iran’s Soleimani

The strike on Iran’s Soleimani
Short Url
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


Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022

Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022

Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022
  • Move aims to increase attractiveness of Saudi labor market
  • Recruiters must carry the cost of insuring contracts for first two years

RIYADH: Saudi Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development is expected to start implementing insurance on the domestic labor contract early in 2022 in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), Al Eqtisadia paper reported.

This decision guarantees the rights and benefits of the employer and the worker, including compensating the employer for the expense of bringing in a replacement domestic worker in the event of death, inability to work, or suffering from chronic or critical diseases, according to the ministry.

The move aims to increase the attractiveness of the Saudi labor market, improve the contractual relationship between workers and employers, and reduce risks in the domestic labor recruitment market, helping to cut costs.

“Recruitment companies and agencies used to provide a 3-month trial period for the worker, compensating families for any potential damage, but once the trial period ends, the two parties are not protected, causing lot of losses to Saudi families,” Saudi development and localization specialist Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab news.

“The insurance contract protects both the worker and the employer,” he said.

The insurance will be technically linked to the mediation contract for the recruitment of domestic workers through the Musaned platform, and the ministry will issue the implementation mechanism later in cooperation with the relevant authorities, including SAMA and the Ministry of Interior, sources familiar with the matter told the paper.

Recruitment companies must carry the cost of insuring the contracts of domestic workers they bring into the country for the first two years, the Saudi Council of Ministers decreed in May.


Lebanese fleeing collapse at home seek security, salaries in UAE

Lebanese fleeing collapse at home seek security, salaries in UAE
Updated 16 min 26 sec ago

Lebanese fleeing collapse at home seek security, salaries in UAE

Lebanese fleeing collapse at home seek security, salaries in UAE
  • Lebanon’s crisis has propelled more than half the population into poverty

DUBAI: Until a few months ago, 32-year-old Michelle Chaaya was a human resources professional at a multinational firm in Lebanon. Now she works as a bartender in Dubai, sending cash to her family back home where a financial crisis has left many destitute.
The United Arab Emirates has long been a destination for Lebanese businesses and professionals, propelled by instability in their tiny country.
Those who like Chaaya came to the UAE in the past year are leaving behind a Lebanon that was already in dire straits before a huge chemical blast tore through Beirut in August, exacerbating a financial meltdown that has seen the currency collapse and jobs vanish.
“After the explosion we felt like we were hopeless. So the first opportunity to travel outside Lebanon, I took it,” Chaaya said.
Fadi Iskanderani, one of Lebanon’s few paediatric surgeons who this month moved to Dubai, said the plummeting currency meant his wages had fallen by around 95 percent for the same workload.
Having trained overseas, he moved back to help rebuild his country after years of civil war. The decision to leave was heart-wrenching.
Lebanon’s crisis has propelled more than half the population into poverty, locked depositors out of bank accounts and worsened shortages of basic goods.
The country’s prized education and medical sectors have seen talent leave in droves: around 1,200 doctors are estimated to have left Lebanon.
Psychiatrist Joseph Khoury, who moved to Dubai this year with his family, said Lebanese doctors are filling entire departments at hospitals in the Gulf state.
“The pace of doctors coming from Lebanon is astonishing, ” Khoury said.
The UAE is stepping up efforts to attract and retain skilled workers as competition for talent heats up in the Gulf Arab region where countries are moving to diversify economies away from oil revenues.
The UAE, where visas for non-citizens are typically tied to employment, is offering certain investors and skilled professionals new long-term 5- or 10-year renewable residency visas — and even potential citizenship.
Abed Mahfouz, a Lebanese bridal couture designer, said he had been told he could apply for the so-called ‘golden visa’.
After the Beirut blast destroyed his business, Mahfouz re-opened this month in a luxury mall in Dubai, a tourism and trade hub that attracts the high-end customers he caters to.
“Dubai has taken the place of Beirut. What I have seen here (this mall) for the past week or 10 days is what I used to see in Lebanon 4-5 years ago: Customers, people shopping,” he said.
But unlike Lebanon’s professional elite, many younger people are struggling to land jobs in the UAE.
Soha, 28, came to Dubai to look for work after the bookshop cafe where she was employed in Beirut was damaged in the port explosion.
“You come from this tiny pool in Lebanon, so my CV looks like nothing, even though I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot,” said Soha, who declined to give her surname. She is rallying herself for more jobseeking in Dubai, a city that could give her the sense of safety she longs for.
“I just wanted to be sitting in a place where I have that peace of mind that something isn’t going to blow up at any minute.”


UAE reports 1,549 new COVID-19 cases, 7 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,549 new COVID-19 cases, 7 deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 22 min 11 sec ago

UAE reports 1,549 new COVID-19 cases, 7 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,549 new COVID-19 cases, 7 deaths in last 24 hours
  • 1,510 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing patient recoveries to 650,683

DUBAI: The UAE on Monday reported 1,549 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths overnight, bringing the total number of recorded cases to 673,185 with 1,927 fatalities related to the highly contagious disease.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention also said that 1,510 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing patient recoveries to 650,683.

An 232,389 additional COVID-19 tests were also over the past 24 hours, the ministry added in a statement published by state news agency WAM.

The UAE’s aggressive vaccination drive has resulted into a 77.85 percent of the population receiving a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 68.75 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The total number of doses provided stands at 16,495,917 with a rate of vaccine distribution of 166.79 doses per 100 people, the ministry reported.


Malaysian doctors stage walkout amid worsening COVID-19 outbreak

Malaysian doctors stage walkout amid worsening COVID-19 outbreak
Updated 52 min 54 sec ago

Malaysian doctors stage walkout amid worsening COVID-19 outbreak

Malaysian doctors stage walkout amid worsening COVID-19 outbreak
  • The doctors are on contracts for a set period and say their treatment is worse than that of permanent government staff

SUNGAI BULOH, Malaysia: Hundreds of junior doctors at state-run Malaysian hospitals staged walkouts Monday demanding better conditions as the country faces its worst coronavirus outbreak yet.
Dressed in black and holding signs with slogans including “equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunity” and “we are your future specialists,” they protested at medical facilities nationwide.
The doctors are on contracts for a set period and say their treatment is worse than that of permanent government staff, even as they have found themselves on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
They complain of a lack of job security, poor benefits and that very few are eventually offered permanent positions.
We want “equal rights, to be a permanent doctor,” said a medic at a government hospital that treats virus patients outside Kuala Lumpur.
“We would definitely not be here if we were treated fairly... we should be appreciated for what we do,” the doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.
The medic was among dozens who took part in the action at the hospital, which lasted around half an hour.
Local media reported that several hundred participated across the country, but some doctors complained they were threatened by police and senior hospital staff in a bid to halt the protests.
Those involved said senior doctors took over their duties before they walked out, to ensure that patient care was not jeopardized.
Malaysia is currently battling its most serious outbreak, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. Officials have reported over one million cases and about 8,000 deaths.
There are over 23,000 doctors on these contracts in Malaysia — about 45 percent of the total medical doctors in the public health care system, according to official estimates.
Last week, the government said it would extend junior doctors’ contracts for up to four years in a bid to forestall the protests.
But they stopped short of offering permanent jobs, and the organizers of Monday’s walkout criticized the move as “short-sighted.”


Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25

Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25
Updated 55 min 12 sec ago

Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25

Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25
  • Car rental facilities to issue all car rental contracts on the Naql portal

RIYADH: The Saudi Transport General Authority (TGA) started implementing the first phase of the unified electronic contract for car rental starting July 25, TGA announced on its Twitter account.
The unified electronic contract obliges car rental facilities to issue all car rental contracts on the Naql portal through the rental contracts service.
This service will enable the licensed establishments to issue a unified contract with complete statutory requirements and clauses, and will contribute to preserving the rights of the lessor and the lessee, enhancing the confidence in the services provided, and raising the level of quality of services, TGA said.
The unified electronic car contract will reduce disputes and the burden on the relevant authorities and will stimulate investment in the sector, according to the TGA.
TGA launched its Distinguished Transport Partner program in May to strengthen public-private partnerships in the sector.