In July 2018, after President Trump warned Iran’s president not to threaten the United States, a rejoinder came not from the Iranian leader but from a shadowy military figure perhaps even more powerful.
“It is beneath the dignity of our president to respond to you,” Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani declared in a speech in western Iran. “I, as a soldier, respond to you.”
The general was a figure of intense interest to people both in and out of Iran.
It is not just that he was in charge of Iranian intelligence gathering and covert military operations, and regarded as one of its most cunning and autonomous military figures. He was also believed to be very close to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and seen as a potential future leader of Iran.
He was considered the most effective military intelligence official in the region.
That General Suleimani was in Iraq when he was killed — at the Baghdad International Airport — was not surprising.
He was in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, a special forces unit responsible for Iranian operations outside Iran’s borders. He once described himself to a senior Iraqi intelligence official as the “sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq,” the official later told American officials in Baghdad.
In his speech denouncing President Trump, he was even less discreet — and openly mocking.
“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine,” he said. “We are ready. We are the man of this arena.”
Well before the speech, American officials had learned to see General Suleimani as a formidable adversary.
After the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein, the United States accused General Suleimani of plotting attacks on American soldiers. And in 2011, the Treasury Department placed him on a sanctions blacklist, accusing him of complicity in what American officials called a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
But at times, adversary looked more like ally, however tenuous the relationship. American officials also cooperated with the Iranian general in Iraq to reverse gains made by the Islamic State — a mutual enemy.
At the height of the Iraq War, as the Quds Force under General Suleimani armed and trained Shiite militias in Iraq, former American officials have said the general was stoking violence and then mediating the conflict, so he could make himself indispensable and keep the Iraqis off balance. According to a June 2008 cable written by Ryan C. Crocker, then the American ambassador to Baghdad, General Suleimani played a role in brokering a cease-fire that enabled the battered Shiite militias in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, which Iran was supporting, to withdraw.
In 2015, General Suleimani was in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, commanding Iraqi Shiite militias that were trying to recapture it from ISIS fighters. American warplanes belatedly joined that campaign.
Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com