Major General Qassem Soleimani was just killed by a strike in Baghdad composed of Soviet-era Katyusha rockets according to the NY Post. As head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, we are certain he had a lot of enemies around the world — namely for stirring up trouble in Iraq in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s administration collapsing after the 2003 invasion by the Americans. Maj. Gen. Soleimani spent the last few years of his life (from 2014-2017) dutifully fighting against ISIS in Iraq while simultaneously arming the extremist pro-Iranian militia groups that now threaten Iraqi sovereignty. More importantly, the reality is that he supported many clandestine operations both in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East that ultimately cost him his life.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called him a “living martyr” in this propagandist SCMP piece from 2014 and extolled his many virtues. What they kindly left out was how large of a role the IRGC has played in arming Hezbollah, a major terrorist organization operating in the region for decades. In the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah was armed with Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship missiles, which are an export-friendly version of the CCP’s YJ-83 anti-ship missiles with a range of approximately 100 miles. They were eventually used to attack and damage the Israeli warship, the INS Hanit by Hezbollah in this war. This individual would have played an integral role in the logistics of arming and training Hezbollah forces in the utilization of such complex weapons, and likely would have had to supply last-mile support and shadowing, just in case. As advanced as modern technology is, it is still quite difficult to target, aim, and damage your enemies moving warships with such highly sophisticated and completely proprietary military technology without immense support from the product’s origin and supply chain. Further, only sophisticated nation state-level actors with complex regional intelligence networks like the IRGC possess the capability and networks required to deliver CCP-made hardware into an active war zone. The CCP certainly trained the IRGC in the utilization of rockets they sold them, and the IRGC trained Hezbollah in the utilization of these weapons to great effect.
According to Globalsecurity which has some additional background, Major General Soleimani even helped to mastermind a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil, with the help of Mexican drug cartels. Elements of the United States Treasury were responsible for sanctioning him back then — and the pressure only intensified until his death.
Major General Qassem Soleimani was an intelligence “spook” for decades. He worked primarily with groups that openly burn American and Israeli flags in the streets and film the activity for propaganda purposes. All the while, their people and economy suffer under crippling American sanctions. Locked out of the international rules based economic order, they are left few options other to continue managing a relationship with the CCP. Iran gets exported missile technology used to arm terrorists with, and the CCP has a client state open another front against “the great Satan”.
Little may ever truly be known about Major General Soleimani’s personal life as it’s been carefully curated. By all accounts, he was a professional warfighter and he was aware of the risks of his entering a foreign country to do intelligence work. He is not to be mocked, but he is not to be revered either. What he represents is a major loss to the IRGC due to civilizations shared war against a client state of the CCP.