Two days after the US launched an attack in Baghdad’s international airport that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian armed forces “one of the most powerful and influential military commanders in the Middle East”, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a representative of Tehran’s interests in Iraq and considered as “the most inveterate opponent of the United States”, the Iranian government leaders threatened a serious retaliation while stating that the US has made a grave mistake in doing such action. The attack was said to have been triggered by the killing of a US contractor and other previous incidents related to the conflict. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said the attack was a strategy to prevent the escalation of conflict and not to start one. In his Twitter post, Trump stated:
“We took action last night to stop a war; we did not take action to start a war. Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London. His reign of terror is over. He was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and personnel but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”
While Iranian officials call America criminals, Trump and the Pentagon also called the officials that were killed “terrorist leaders”. Soleimani was the high commander of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force of Iran, the major force responsible for the spread of resistance all across the regions against the Middle East’s dominant Sunni powers along with Western, most specifically American, involvement on these Arab countries. Some of its allies are Syria and Lebanon. For decades, Soleimani was said to have been heavily involved in creating proxy militias across the region and in many Iranian military activities in the Arab lands such as Afghanistan, Iraq, including the Caucasus states.
Founded during the Iran-Iraq War, the Quds Force is an elite unit formed to help the take down of Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi dictator. However, it was also established to enforce its Islamic principles of revolution. During those times, Iranian regime was doubtful about the military’s loyalty that’s why the Quds sentiment grew stronger, inspiring them to conduct more intensive military training’s to form forces, such as Hezbollah, that would later take responsibility in fighting against Jewish and Israeli allies. For decades, the Quds launched attacks in different parts of the Arab regions, targeting Jewish and American facilities and communities.
Meanwhile, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was a member of the Dawa party, a Shia opposition which are believed to be responsible for the different terrorist attacks against the US and French embassies during the 1980’s Iran-Iraq war. He was a commander of the elite soldiers of the Badr corps until the late 1990’s and was a major player in Iran’s fight against Western powers. He was strongly identified as one of the mastermind suspects in the 1983 embassy bombing (US and French) and other several assassination attempts and therefore was given death sentence in Kuwait.
Muhandis was also one of the top leaders of the Shia militias or the Popular Mobilization Forces also known as the Hashed, an umbrella organization sponsored by Iraq which is made up of 40 militias that also includes Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Yazidi groups. And lastly, he was also believed to be a major instrument of the founding of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, also part of the Hashed. In the aftermath of US strikes which killed more than 20 people in the Shia armed groups, the militias he founded, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis before his death stated:
“The US ambassador, the Americans and their intelligence agencies must not think that they can sustain their control over their bases in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. By Allah, we will stop America and all of its Iraqi cronies, hiding in their offices.”