That people throughout the Middle East posting joyous videos to social media, celebrating the death of Qasem Soleimani, the author of so much of their misery is a testament to fact that the world to which we wake up today, rid of its most deadly terrorist, is a better place. We should all including those anti-Trump wings join them in their good cheer, and continue to repeal Soleimani’s murderous anti-American legacy.
Soleimani, Iran's Deadly Puppet Master, popularly known as the mastermind behind the Islamic Republic’s vast network of proxies stretching from Iraq and Lebanon to Syria and Yemen, has long been a controversial figure in Middle East. With his demise, the world has got a chance to restore peace and stability in the region.
Soleimani has been in acts of terrorism to destabilise Gulf nations for last couple of decade. The US has pursued him for decades — his operations within Iraq since 2003 have killed more than 600 American personnel. Had the world taken action against this accomplished terror to hold him to accounts, a lots of life would have been saved.
Iran has long been plunged in a regime of aggression in the Gulf using the proxy fighters to destabilise its neighbour. This must be stopped and the killing of Soleimani can be considered a big achievement to this end. Indeed, Donald Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani was a bold step, but not to start a war, rather to stop a war. How the killing of Soleimani has made the world a better place to live in? It needs no emphasizing that Soleimani helped to shape Iran’s foreign policy and carry out covert offensive acts in the region what the Trump administration dubs ‘malign activity’ against US regional interests and allies.
In Lebanon, Soleimani built Lebanese Hezbollah into the powerful state within a state that we know today. A terrorist organisation receiving its funds, arms and marching orders from Tehran, Hezbollah has a missile arsenal larger than that of most countries in the region. The group’s success has been astounding, helping to cement Iran’s influence not just in Lebanon but farther around the Arab world.
United States had several past opportunities to kill Soleimani but each time decided against it. This restraint did not make the world safer. It only gave Soleimani more time to build his empire, and, moreover, it enhanced his mystique as a man with an almost superhuman ability to evade detection
Building up on this successful experience, Soleimani spent the last decade replicating the Hezbollah model in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, propping up local militias with precision weapons and tactical know-how. In Syria, his forces have allied with Russia to prop up the regime of Bashar Al Assad, a project that, in practice, has meant driving over 10 million people from their homes and killing well over half a million. In Iraq, as we have seen in recent days, Soleimani’s militias ride roughshod over the legitimate state institutions. They rose to power, of course, after participating in an insurgency, of which he was the architect, against American and coalition forces. Hundreds of American soldiers lost their lives to the weapons that the Quds Force provided to its Iraqi proxies.
Soleimani built this empire of militias while betting that America would steer clear of an outright confrontation. This gambit certainly paid off under President Barack Obama, but it even seemed to be a safe bet under President Trump, despite his stated policy of “maximum pressure”. Trump was putting an economic squeeze on Iran, and popular protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon were adding to the pressure, but Soleimani assumed that, in the end, control of military assets would win the day. Trump, it seemed, feared getting sucked into a war. Washington, in short, lacked a ground game.
In September, Soleimani and his colleagues reportedly pressed their advantage by attacking a Saudi Arabian oilfield, an act of war that went unanswered. He followed this up by orchestrating attacks by Iranian proxies on Americans. The Trump administration had said clearly that attacking Americans was a red line, but Soleimani had heard threats in the past from American leaders. He thought he could erase Trump’s red line.
His departure will make Iran much weaker. It will embolden the country’s regional rivals to pursue their strategic interests more resolutely. It will also instill in the protesters in Iran, Lebanon and, especially, Iraq, the hope that they will one day wrest control of their governments from the talons of the Islamic Republic.
Experts are of the opinion that United States had several past opportunities to kill Soleimani but each time decided against it. This restraint did not make the world safer. It only gave Soleimani more time to build his empire, and, moreover, it enhanced his mystique as a man with an almost superhuman ability to evade detection.
Trump’s critics accused him of needlessly provoking Iran, arguing that Soleimani’s assassination could lead to war. This is an analysis that ignores the fact that Soleimani has been waging war on America and its allies for years and was directly engaged in the planning of attacks. Indeed the killing of Suleimani was such decision which should have been taken long ago.
Sayeed Shuvro works with the Bangladesh Post