Be it due to the U.S’s ongoing tussle with Iran or due to decent reasons, Qasem Soleimani was counted among the most infamous military operators in the Middle East by the U.S. And with his death, planned by the US, the question arises what exactly he had done to deserve a spot in the US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
The 62 years old was a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force. Diplomats had believed that he was more powerful than even some of the Iranai ministers. Notably, his operations included extending military reach to Irans neighbours and more.
Soleimani career began in 1979 when he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He took part in wars, including war with neighbouring Iraq, from 1980 to 1988, which shaped his presence.
In the late 1990s, Soleimani took control of Quds Force and he was devoted to external affairs. The Quds Force was already expanding in regions like Lebanon and under his supervision, it grew further. The presence was so influential that he even had direct involvement in top-level talks over the formation of Iraq’s government.
Since then he has been a paparazzi favorite face in Iran. He was popular among people for he had led the fight against jihadist forces and extended Iran’s diplomatic heft in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
As the U.S. began pushing sanctions over Iran in 2015, some sought Qasem Soleimani to enter politics. However, he had dismissed mulling over any such plans. Tensions have escalated between the U.S. and Iran ever since.
Moreover, he had a rigorours presence in Afghanistan even before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to counter the Taliban presence.
In Iraq, Shiite militias harassed U.S. troops, firing rockets at bases used by Americans. After one such attack killed a U.S. contractor, it irked the U.S. as it launched airstrikes against bases along the border with Syria used by the group Kataib Hezbollah.
Again when Shiite militias barged into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve, the U.S., a day after, retaliated with an airstrike at Baghdad airport killing Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander.
Western leaders have seen him as a force that ties Iran’s militia groups including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.
Includes inputs from The Hindu & The Washington Post