by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 11, Jumada' al-Ula', 1443)
January 3, 2022 will mark the second anniversary of the martyrdom of General Haj Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force. He was martyred in a missile strike fired from a US drone just outside Baghdad international airport. Also martyred with him was Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, deputy head of Hashd al Sha‘abi (Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units - PMU) of Iraq as well as several of their companions.
The US missile strike was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, against international law as well as the UN charter, making America an international outlaw. General Soleimani’s assassination, according to many commentators, constitutes a war crime. Former US President Donald Trump bears personal responsibility for this crime since he was the one who authorized it despite warnings from some of his top aides.
Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, tweeted immediately after the attacks: “The targeted killings of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis most likely violate international law [including] human rights law. Lawful justifications for such killings are very narrowly defined and it is hard to imagine how any of these can apply to these killings.”
On July 7, 2020, Ms. Callamard presented her full report in which she did not mince words: “Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful,” Ms. Callamard said in her report. She further said the targeted killing was “the first known incident in which a state invoked self-defense as a justification for an attack against a state-actor, in the territory of another state.”
Extra-judicial executions are precisely the kinds of illegal activities the US and Zionist regimes specialize in. On November 27, 2020, a top Iranian scientist, Dr. Mohsen Fakhrezadeh was assassinated in Tehran in an Israeli plot using a satellite-controlled machine gun. Born through terror, the Zionist regime and its principal financier and supporter—the US—continue to indulge in horrendous crimes against innocent people including extra-judicial executions.
The assassinations of Iran’s top commander and its top scientists are carried out in the mistaken belief that it would stymie the Islamic Republic’s progress. While such crimes reconfirm the criminal nature of these regimes, they also motivate the Islamic Republic to double its efforts. After all, Iran was subjected to an eight-year-long war that was launched through Saddam Husain of Iraq but backed by all the Western, Eastern and Arabian regimes. Money, weapons and intelligence were provided.
What was the end result? Islamic Iran successfully defended its revolution and territory and the US itself then engineered the removal from power of Saddam. He was executed on December 30, 2006. Today, Islamic Iran enjoys cordial relations with Iraq as well as robust trade. There are loud demands from all segments of the Iraqi society to expel all American forces from the country. This is a clear defeat for US imperialism in Iraq.
General Soleimani had arrived in Baghdad on a commercial flight from Syria. He was on a diplomatic mission carrying a letter from Iran’s leaders to the Saudis to be delivered through the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. This was in response to Saudi messages to de-escalate tensions between Riyadh and Tehran as well as try to end the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
We need to consider what has happened in the two-year period since Haj Soleimani’s martyrdom, who was an extremely important figure not just in the Quds Force but also in the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is no doubt his loss has been greatly felt. He was virtually irreplaceable although given the depth of talent in the Islamic Republic, others have filled in to carry on his mission.
His successor as Quds Force commander Esmail Qa’ani has been in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps since 1980. He is a veteran of the Iraqi-imposed war and also an expert on Afghanistan.
Throughout his career, Haj Soleimani had cultivated close links with the leaders of all resistance forces whether in Occupied Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon or Yemen. He was well liked because of his charismatic personality and military and strategic brilliance. He had a grand vision not just for Iran but for the region, indeed the entire Muslim world and beyond.
It was Haj Soleimani who convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the fight against the US-backed Daesh terrorists in Syria. He argued that if they succeeded in Syria, they would pose a direct threat to Russia. Islamic Iran was providing military advisors while Hizbullah had its fighters on the ground in Syria.
Russian air support, starting on September 30, 2015 augmented efforts by Islamic Iran and Hizbullah. Collectively these saved the Syrian government from collapse and put paid to the US-Israeli-Saudi plot whose ultimate goal was to overthrow the Islamic system of government in Iran.
The martyr Soleimani’s untiring efforts brought Lebanon’s Hizbullah movement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and the Peoples’ militias in Iraq and Syria much closer to each other. With Iran’s help, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) defeated Daesh terrorists in Iraq and eliminated them from the country in 2017. The terrorists fled to Syria, courtesy the US and Turkey.
In Syria, however, they are now confined to some pockets in Idlib province. Ankara continues to provide them support and finances but given the deep financial crisis gripping Turkey and advances made by the Syrian armed forces, Daesh faces an uncertain future there. The Americans, who have an illegal military presence in Syria, are trying to whisk them off elsewhere to safety. Some of them have showed up in distant Afghanistan to destabilize that country on behalf of the US.
After 20 years of blood-letting, the Americans have been defeated in Afghanistan and have fled the country. They are now fighting a proxy war through their Daesh agents but there is no mistaking the fact that the self-proclaimed superpower has been convincingly defeated.
In Yemen, too, the US-backed and Saudi-led war is grinding to a halt as the Ansarallah fighters continue to inflict blows on the Saudi invaders. It is highly unlikely that the Saudis can withstand the resistance movement in Yemen for much longer. This is also reflected in the decrease in Saudi defence budget for next year, indicating that the kingdom is unable to continue the war. It is looking for a way out of the quagmire.
While General Soleimani may no longer be in this world, his legacy of resistance continues. It will not be long before US forces are driven out of the entire region where they do not belong in any case.
The noble Qur’an states that people that achieve martyrdom are not dead. They are alive, meaning they achieve eternal life (2:154).