The United States just took out the most important symbol of Iranian power and its most effective operational tool in the region. It’s impossible to exaggerate the influence wielded by Qassem Soleimani in the 22 years he commanded the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.
There was the power he had over governments and fighting forces across the region and his ability to shape events – from his physical presence on the front lines, which over the years took on an almost mythic quality, to his quiet diplomacy, coupled always with intimidation and bribery behind the scenes. His loss to the Iranian Islamic revolutionary regime, especially to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is a crushing blow, and on an operational and intelligence-gathering level, a major coup for the Trump administration.
>> By assassinating Soleimani, U.S. takes another step toward war with Iran
– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 55
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For many countries across the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, where Soleimani was directly responsible for spreading so much death and destruction, as well as for Iranian dissidents, it will be a moment for grim satisfaction, even jubilation. Iran will have no choice but to retaliate with massive force and try to extract painful retribution from the United States and its allies in the region.
This is the most fateful action by the Trump administration in the Middle East in the past three years – the blatant assassination of effectively the second-most powerful man in his country and over the past two decades the most powerful in the region.
It’s impossible to exaggerate the repercussions of this event, and even Donald Trump’s most steadfast supporters should be regretting the absence of a seasoned national-security staff around him, capable of challenging his decisions and assumptions. For the past 22 years, Soleimani was a constant if bitter foe; without him, matters become a lot less predictable.
There are now two critical questions to ask of Iran and two of the United States.