By Ian Greenhalgh

How should we remember General Soleimani?

January 19, 2021 - 15:47

It is true that often, one can better assess a person by who their enemies were than by who were their friends. If we apply this maxim to the late General Qassem Soleimani, sadly assassinated by U.S. airstrike in January 2020, we see clearly that his enemies were the United States, Israel, and their allies in West Asia – Saudi Arabia and the Arab States.

Why did the U.S. kill Gen. Soleimani? The official reason given by Washington is that he was a terrorist (thus designated by the U.S. in 2005) and a threat to peace and stability in the region. Of course, this is very far from the truth and the real reason is that he was greatly successful in throwing a metaphorical spanner in the works of the schemes of the U.S.-Israel-Saudi ‘Axis of Evil’.

“No man did more to oppose the nefarious agenda of the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis than Qassem Soleimani.”In a 2014 article in New Yorker magazine, Soleimani was described by an ex-CIA operative formerly responsible for clandestine operations, as "the single most powerful operative in the Middle East (West Asia) today" and “the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran's effort to deter Western influence.”

After the last decade of conflict and regime change, that has seen the destruction of Iraq, Syria and to an extent, Egypt, West Asia today is dominated by two powers – Israel, with its American and Saudi backers and Iran, which is the ‘last man standing’ in opposition to Israeli domination of the region. It is Iran that has been the power behind the opposition to U.S.-Israeli-Saudi hegemony over West Asia and no man did more to oppose the nefarious agenda of the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis than Qassem Soleimani and by doing so, he became a man marked for death.

Soleimani was leader of the Quds Force, the primary military arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Almost his entire military career was spent battling the various proxy forces of the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis and in doing so, he enjoyed great success. He began by successfully battling drug traffickers operating along the Afghanistan-Iran border, thus disrupting the highly lucrative heroin smuggling operations that had earned huge profits for the CIA, thus he came ‘onto the radar’ as a threat to U.S. ‘interests’ in the region.

“It was Gen. Soleimani that masterminded the Lebanese defense as he directed the battle between the Hezbollah forces that defended Lebanon and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Israeli invaders (in 2006).”The next time Gen. Soleimani came into direct opposition to the nefarious operations of the axis came in 2006 when Israel invaded Lebanon, an invasion that very quickly turned into total failure and became an embarrassing defeat for Israel. It was Gen. Soleimani that masterminded the Lebanese defense as he directed the battle between the Hezbollah forces that defended Lebanon and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Israeli invaders.

One might ask why an Iranian general was commanding Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, the answer requires a little knowledge of the geopolitics of West Asia. While Iran is not an Arab nation, the bond of Islam makes it a natural ally and supporter of nations of Syria & Iraq (the Saddam Hussein years were an aberration, Saddam cared nothing for Islam of any form and was a CIA puppet who attacked Iran on U.S. orders); therefore, it is entirely reasonable for Iran to support and defend its Arab brothers, whether they be in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. Gen. Soleimani was the man who led Iranian efforts to do so.

With a track record of defeating CIA-backed drug traffickers and humiliating Israel’s forces in Lebanon, Soleimani was already perceived by the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis as a thorn in the side of their plans when they enacted their plot to destroy Syria & Iraq under the guise of Islamic State in 2014. The Iraqi Army largely deserted, turning over its weapons & equipment to the ISIL fighters and simply going home, their pockets lined with U.S.-supplied cash handed out by ISIL. This was the how and why of ISIL’s lightning-fast conquest of large swathes of northern Iraq. With the Iraqi Army gone, ISIL faced little opposition, just a rag-tag of Kurdish forces and hastily organized local militias, into this vacuum stepped Gen. Soleimani and a small but highly motivated and trained Iranian Revolutionary Guards cadre around which the general was able to organize the local Kurds & Iraqi militias into an effective fighting force that first halted the advance of ISIL, then over many long, hard months of fighting, pushed them back and eventually drove them out of Iraq entirely.

Now he had defeated ISIL in Iraq, Gen. Soleimani really was a marked man, he had seriously derailed the nefarious agenda of the U.S.-Israel Saudi axis and they wanted his head for doing so. With Iraq now free of ISIS, Gen. Soleimani moved on to Syria where a similar struggle was taking place between the largely foreign mercenary forces of ISIL and the Syrian armed forces with assistance from Hezbollah. Once again, Soleimani became the lynchpin that held together with the alliance against ISIL and masterminded the successful military campaign that defeated them. During this time, the U.S. and Israel made several attempts to kill the General, airstrikes on positions where the General was thought to be located were a frequent occurrence, and several times the U.S. falsely claimed to have killed him. Eventually, thanks to the leadership of Soleimani, ISIL was defeated in Syria and the general had a second great victory against the prosy mercenary forces of the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis under his belt.

“Soleimani was a humble man; he never courted fame nor public adulation; he simply got on with the task assigned to him and completed that task with great skill and courage.” With such a string of victories to his credit, Gen. Soleimani was very much a man marked for death by his enemies. He had driven their proxy armies out of first Iraq and then Syria, he had destroyed their plans to conquer West Asia, no other figure could reasonably be claimed to be a greater threat to their nefarious agenda. Therefore, it was with a crushing inevitability that the General, a man of great integrity, a warrior of great bravery, and a unifying and inspiring figure for the entire Arab and wider Islamic world would meet his tragic end at the hands of the US-Israel-Saudi axis when finally, they caught up with him at Baghdad Airport in January 2020, blowing his vehicle convoy to pieces with an airstrike. 

The Western world reveres great generals of the past such as Rommel, Patton, and Montgomery, in my eyes, Qassem Soleimani deserves to be ranked alongside them as a warrior and man of honor and integrity, a man who fought long and hard against forces that sought to destroy, conquer and enslave on behalf of international criminals. Gen. Soleimani should be remembered as both a great general and a great man, but I fear that will not be the case in the Western world where he has been besmirched as a terrorist and enemy of freedom. I hope that one day, this egregious falsehood is overturned and his rightful position as the man who defeated Islamic State first in Iraq and then in Syria is fully recognized. Soleimani was a humble man, he never courted fame nor public adulation, he simply got on with the task assigned to him and completed that task with great skill and courage. 

I shall leave the writing of epitaths to more poetically minded writers and simply say that Qassem Soleimani was a brave and noble warrior who gave his life in service of his Islamic brothers so that they may live safer, happier lives and for that, he deserves to be remembered with respect and admiration. 

*Ian Greenhalgh is a British political analyst and historian with a particular interest in military history and the real causes of conflicts. His studies in history and background in the media industry have given him a keen insight into the use of mass media as a creator of conflict in the modern world.