It has been almost a year since the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the popular Iranian general, in a US drone strike in Iraq. This astounding incident was marked by many as a prelude to the decline of the USA’s foreign policy strategies. This event has drawn observers’ and political analysts’ attention to World War II and before the Cold War. Just hours before Soleimani’s funeral, Iran made a military response to his assassination making the majority of experts and analysist unanimous that the USA’s move was a strategic, costly, and probably irreparable mistake.It murdered one of Iran’s most pre-eminent figures at the unimaginable cost of losing its military prestige and hegemony. Iran, as a claiming power and despite a host of economic problems at home caused by US sanctions, fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at the two air bases housing US forces in Iraq and thereby indelibly damaged the prestige of the world’s military superpower.
Soleimani’s hunting by the USA shows that they, too, had become aware of this strategy and had no choice but to jeopardize their prestige and reveal its less-apparent role in order to prevent and disrupt its realization. Soleimani’s strategy increased the pressure to an extent that forced the main enemy, in a rare and unique event in the history of the 21st century, to come out from behind the scene and confront Soleimani directly. This seems to have fulfilled Soleimani’s wishes to the highest degree and proved his worldview to his opponents
It seemed that this loss of prestige was the first move in Iran’s political chess, since no more than a couple of days later in a public speech, Ayatollah Khamenei announced that it was just a “slap in face” to the U.S. and that revenge had not yet been taken. The disclosure of the head of the IRGC Aerospace Force, of which Soleimani was himself commander, was also an evidence of this. He declared that a two-stage revenge plan had been prepared and they were waiting for the USA to respond in order to start the main operation. However, it seems that the Americans had read the Iranians’ mind and decided not to fall into the trap of the second stage of revenge, being content with losing that amount of prestige. In any case, the words of the Iranian military officials and their actions with regard to Venezuela (exporting oil as a show of defiance by two states sanctioned by the USA) showed that they were seeking to trap the Americans so that they could appease their people with a revenge, equals to the credit their commander deserves.
The key question that needs to be addressed here is why Soleimani enjoys such a widespread popularity amongst the Iranian people. Some video clips released after his death indicates that he not only enjoyed a military charisma but ad moved beyond and developed a civilizational charisma. Hence the emotional bond formed and continue to exist between him and various political parties, religious groups, and many other popular Iranian, non-Iranian, Shia, non-Shia, Muslim and non-Muslim social activists.
One of these videos is a recently viral clip which reveals more about his ethics and perspectives, and perhaps is a means to understand more about his charisma. The video shows Soleimani in Al Bukamal in Syria recounting parts of a will belonging to a martyr of the Iran-Iraq war to the fighters against ISIS.
Both his way of narration and his habit of retelling the story of the lives of his comrades during the War, reveal that we are dealing with a figure who has had parts of his mind and memory left in and influenced by a particular historical moment. In this short video, he quotes some strange sentences seemingly with the intention to instill a particular viewpoint in the minds of his soldiers regarding the enemy they were facing at the moment.
From the third minute of this video, Soleimani says: “Martyr Ali Mohammadi writes in his will that, ‘O Arab brother, you are stalking me and I am stalking you. If you kill and martyr me, I will intercede on your behalf in the Hereafter and pray God to forgive you…’”
This statement in a will is as strange and astonishing as it is quoted by a military general on the battlefield. In fact, if the video of this speech was not available, it could be considered propaganda by Soleimani’s supporters.
Now that it is viral, it can be employed to further explore aspects of his moral codes and to form a better conception of the rationale behind his actions on the battlefield. The question is why a soldier named Ali Mohammadi in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war should make such a will and forgive someone who sought to attack his country and life and officially announce this pardon to make it widely known and promoted.
Soleimani’s words and actions in the post-war years, however, can be illuminating in this regard. Taking an overarching look at his remarks about the Iran-Iraq war indicates that he and his comrades, like Ali Mohammadi, often considered Saddam’s soldiers to be deceived people and false enemies. This is clearly reflected in Iran’s post-war efforts to unilaterally release Iraqi prisoners of war.
Soleimani’s speeches over the past years also show that, in his and other generals of the same rank and even his leaders, the enemies are essentially divided into two key categories: the main enemy and the deceived combatants. During the Iran-Iraq War, they regarded Iraqi soldiers to be deceived fighters and instead took Saddam and the USA as the main enemy. This issue is frequently referred to in his words. This is also evident in Syria where Soleimani, in his speeches and heroic talks, calls Israel, the USA, and the leaders of ISIS the main enemy and the rest deceived fighters.
Analyzing the words of Iranian leaders, political officials, and military commanders, depicts that their approach to history is governed by the same logic. They have recourse to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Imam of the Shia and the fourth caliph after the Prophet of Islam, as he did not kill any enemy in wars and during the sword fighting, believing that we should abandon these deceived people but keep a tight rein on the main enemy. It has been quoted from him that many of these deceived people, if released, will have children who will be faithful disciples of his worldview. Most Iranians also hold that Ali invited his number one enemy, Muawiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan, to a hand-to-hand battle, urging him not to drag the innocent and uninformed people into the slaughterhouse.
The recruitment of large numbers of Iraqi prisoners of war to the Iranian army during Iran’s eight-year war and the establishment of Badr Corps was a successful outcome of this strategy, which Soleimani also implemented in Syria. Iranians, along with the history of Shia-ism and Islam, do consider a Quranic reference in this regard. They especially bring up this part of Quran which says: “If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just)”.
From the point of view of Soleimani and other generals acting under the command of Iran’s Leader, the Quran is a book for making civilizations. This will explain why they attempt to spread their civilization accordingly, to establish and strengthen the foundations of their new civilization beyond the borders, and to treat their opposition’s fighters with due forbearance. In this way, they can both ally the deceived groups with themselves and disunite the enemy front, and highlight the borderline between the unreal and real enemies, which in their logic are the USA, Israel, and other oppressive and manipulative powers.
This video, together with Soleimani’s quotes from Ali Mohammadi, show that the wanted outcome of the said strategy lies in this point that their soldiers are to fight without resentment and constantly remind themselves that the main enemy is hiding behind these deceived fighters. Soleimani, who had a wealth of experience in the Iran-Iraq war, was well-informed about the colonial deception and staging, and for this reason and by quoting that will, he asked his soldiers to do the following: “Bury the resentments in order to find the real enemy”. He even forbids the houses and property of the opposition fighters to his soldiers. Finally, such an attitude is also traceable in exercising the “maximum attraction” policy emphasized by the Leader of Iran; a great call for a new civilization.
In any case, Soleimani’s hunting by the USA shows that they, too, had become aware of this strategy and had no choice but to jeopardize their prestige and reveal its less-apparent role in order to prevent and disrupt its realization. Soleimani’s strategy increased the pressure to an extent that forced the main enemy, in a rare and unique event in the history of the 21st century, to come out from behind the scene and confront Soleimani directly. This seems to have fulfilled Soleimani’s wishes to the highest degree and proved his worldview to his opponents.
“If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just)”
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