Qassem Soleimani was the famous soldier of Iran, spearhead in the Middle East
Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the main commander of the elite Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard, helped Iran fight power wars throughout the Middle East by inspiring militias on the battlefield and negotiating with leaders politicians.
His death on Friday in an American air strike against his convoy in Baghdad The airport marked the end of a man who was a celebrity at home and that the United States, Israel and Tehran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, watched closely.
The Pentagon said the attack was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.
Soleimani was responsible for clandestine operations abroad and was often seen on the battlefields leading Iraqi Shiite groups in the war against the Islamic State.
He was killed along with the commander of the Iraqi militia Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Both men were seen as heroes in Iran's fight against their enemies and state television praised them shortly after their death was announced.
Television showed images of him with the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and in war zones with military attire, even when he was a young high school graduate commanding a unit in Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s.
After that, he quickly ascended through the ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to become head of the Quds Force, a position in which he helped Iran form alliances in the Middle East due to pressure from US sanctions that They have devastated the economy of the Islamic Republic.
The United States designated the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019, part of a maximum pressure campaign to force Iran to negotiate its ballistic missile program and nuclear policy.
Soleimani had a sharp response: any negotiation with the United States would be a complete surrender.
The Quds Force of Soleimani had the support of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad when he appeared to be close to the defeat in the civil war since 2011 and also helped the militiamen defeat the Islamic State in Iraq.
His successes have made Soleimani instrumental in spreading the influence of Iran in the Middle East, which the regional enemies of the United States and Tehran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have struggled to keep under control.
Khamenei made Soleimani the head of the Quds Force in 1998, a position in which he maintained a low profile for years while strengthening Iran's ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad government and Shiite militia groups in Iraq.
In recent years, he has acquired a more public position, with combatants and commanders in Iraq and Syria publishing images on his social networks on the battlefield, his beard and hair always impeccably trimmed.
WE ARE NEAR YOU
Soleimani's growing authority within Iran's military establishment was evident in 2019 when Khamenei awarded him the medal of the Order of Zolfiqar, Iran's greatest military honor. It was the first time a commander had received the medal since the Islamic Republic was established in 1979.
In a statement after Soleimani's death, Khamenei said a hard revenge awaited the criminals who killed him. His death, although bitter, would double the motivation of the resistance against the United States and Israel, the Iranian leader said.
Soleimani ... is not a man who works in an office. He goes to the front to inspect the troops and watch the fighting, a former senior Iraqi official who asked not to be identified said in an interview in 2014.
His chain of command is only the Supreme Leader. He needs money, he receives money. He needs ammunition, he gets ammunition. He needs material, he gets material, the former Iraqi official said.
Soleimani was also in charge of intelligence gathering and covert military operations carried out by the Quds Force and in 2018 publicly challenged the president of the United States, Donald Trump.
I am telling Mr. Trump the player, I am telling you, know that we are close to you in that place that you do not think we are, said Soleimani, seen moving a warning finger in a video distributed online.
You'll start the war but we'll end it, he said, with a checkered keffiya on the shoulders of his olive uniform.
GET WHAT YOU WANT
Gently spoken, Soleimani came from humble origins, born in an agricultural family in the city of Rabor, in southeastern Iran, on March 11, 1957.
At age 13, he traveled to the city of Kerman and got a construction job to help his father pay off the loans, according to a Soleimani first-person account published by Defa Press, a site focused on the history of the war of Eight years of Iran with Iraq.
When the revolution to overthrow the Shah began in 1978, Soleimani was working for the municipal water department in Kerman and organized demonstrations against the monarch.
He volunteered for the Revolutionary Guard and, after the war broke out in Iraq in 1980, he quickly rose in rank and confronted drug traffickers on the border with Afghanistan.
Soleimani is a great listener. He does not impose himself. But he always gets what he wants, said another Iraqi official, adding that it can be intimidating.
At the height of the civil war between Sunni and Shiite militants in Iraq in 2007, the US army. UU. He accused the Quds Force of supplying improvised explosive devices to Shiite militants that killed many American soldiers.
Soleimani played such a fundamental role in the security of Iraq through several militia groups that General David Petraeus, the general chief of US forces in Iraq at the time, sent him messages through Iraqi officials, according to diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks.
After a referendum on independence in the Kurdish north in 2017, Soleimani issued a warning to Kurdish leaders that led to the withdrawal of combatants from the disputed areas and allowed the central government forces to reaffirm their control.
It could be said that he was even more influential in Syria. His visit to Moscow in the summer of 2015 was the first step in planning a Russian military intervention that reformed the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad.
His activities made him a repeated target of the US Treasury. USA: Soleimani was sanctioned by the United States for the support of the Quds Force in Hezbollah and other armed groups in Lebanon, for their role in the repression of Syria against protesters and their alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate The Saudi ambassador in the United States.
Soleimani's success in advancing Iran's agenda also put him in the sights of the regional enemies of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Leading Saudi intelligence officials discussed the possibility of killing Soleimani in 2017, according to a report published in the New York Times in 2018. A spokesman for the Saudi government declined to comment, the Times reported, but Israeli military officials publicly discussed the possibility of attack him.