An Adieu From Asia’s James Bond
The US used to consider him as the Merchant of Jihad who terrorised a large part of West Asia… and, to Middle Eastern Shi’ites, he was James Bond, German General Erwin Rommel and Lady Gaga rolled into one. Kenneth M Pollack, the former CIA analyst and an Expert on Middle Eastern Politics, had described Iran’s Shadow Commander Qasem Soleimani (March 11, 1957 – January 3, 2020) in this manner while including his name in Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People‘ in 2017.
General Soleimani – who had a small, yet stout figure – received the ‘Order of Zolfaghar‘ from the Supreme Religious Leader of his country Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in March 2018. While honouring him with the highest military honour of Iran, Khamenei called the General a ‘Living Martyr of the Revolution‘! The Supreme Leader of Iran had to bend down a bit to kiss the neck of the General on that day. This time, Khamenei is not in a position to do so, as he was shell shocked after receiving the news of General Soleimani’s death in a US drone attack (on January 3)!
As per official records, Soleimani was a Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran and, from 1998 till his death, Commander of the IRGC’s Quds Forces. However, the fact of the matter is: he was the Chief of the Iranian Army! Since he joined the IRGC as an ordinary soldier in the 1970s, he used to report only to Khamenei. He toured the entire Arab World, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Israel, mainly to prepare Iran’s defence strategy. Once, he was heard saying that if (US President Donald) Trump triggered a war, then Iran would finish it off! In 2018, General Soleimani used to claim openly that he had played an important role in forming the Government in neighbouring Iraq!
As long as the Quds Forces fought against the ISIS in Iraq, the US issued no statements against General Soleimani. Washington changed its stance after announcing its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, on May 8, 2018. Since then, the Iranian Shadow Commander had repeatedly warned the US! Experts believe that the Trump Administration decided to eliminate General Soleimani after the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militiamen and their supporters attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019 (in response to US airstrikes on December 29, 2019).
General Soleimani (R) with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
General Soleimani had been leading the Quds Forces since 1998. According to experts in Geopolitical issues, he managed to increase Iran’s influence in a large part of West Asia in last few years. Meanwhile, the US accused the Quds Forces of backing Hezbollah and Hamas militiamen in Lebanon and Palestine, respectively! The US also included the Iranian Army and its Quds Forces in the List of Terror Outfits after withdrawing itself from the JCPOA. However, General Soleimani had already become a celebrity, courtesy Instagram. Documentaries, animations, and even pop music videos had been made on him!
General Soleimani was born on March 11, 1957 at Qanat-e Malek Village in the south-eastern Iranian Province of Kerman. As he belonged to a poor family, his father was burdened with loans. After completing study at a local school, General Soleimani started working as a labourer to help his father. During that period, he joined Gym and took Karate classes, as his actual plan was to become a fitness trainer. However, he became a soldier! His efficiency and knowledge about regional Geopolitics helped him get quick promotions. He not only served as a Commander of the Iranian Army, but also became the Second-in-Command! General Soleimani had no idea that an unprecedented US drone attack would end his journey…
The James Bond of Asia was killed on January 3, 2020 at around 1am (local time) after missiles shot from the US drones targeted his convoy near Baghdad International Airport. He had just left his plane that had arrived in Iraq from Lebanon or Syria. His body was identified, using a ring that he wore on his finger. While tens of thousands of Iraqis chanted “Death To America” at the Iranian General’s funeral march, furious Iran vowed revenge for the killing of the Chief Architect of its Military Operations across West Asia.
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