The Herald, 4 Jan 2020
By Struan Stevenson
THE elimination in Baghdad of senior Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and his deputy and Chief of Staff of Operations Abu Mehdi Mohandes by the Americans, is a fatal blow to the Iranian regime.
Soleimani was listed as an international terrorist by the American State Department. He controlled the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, their vicious unit responsible for extraterritorial operations.
Soleimani was answerable only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and as such, was described by many as the second most powerful person in the Islamic Republic.
As Qods Force commander, he oversaw the regime’s proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq, where he was commander in chief of all the Iraqi militias. His death is an irreparable blow to the clerical regime.
Following the revolution which brought Ayatollah Ruholla Khomenei to power in 1979, the Iranian constitution was altered to introduce the system of velayat-e-faqih, or guardianship of the Islamic jurist, effectively providing the Supreme Leader with power claimed to come directly from God.
Khomenei moved rapidly to eliminate opposition to his clerical dictatorship, ruthlessly murdering tens of thousands of political opponents whom he claimed were guilty of ‘moharebeh’ or ‘waging war against God’.
The secret massacre of more than 30,000 supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran in 1988, stands out as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the late 20th century.
Startling as these figures are, they are only a fraction of the estimated 120,000 political prisoners executed so far during the clerical dictatorship in Iran, often with the direct involvement of Soleimani.
Khomenei created the IRGC as his own version of the Gestapo, to spread their revolutionary policy of violence and terror beyond Iran’s borders.
The IRGC and its Qods Force not only brutally enforces the clerical regime’s oppressive domination of the Iranian population, it also controls most of the Iranian economy, paying no taxes and funneling resources into the pockets of the ruling elite, while sponsoring terrorism and aggressive military expansionism abroad.
Soleimani played a key role in this process. His poster featured on walls and hoardings across the Middle East.
Following the siege on the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week, graffiti on the embassy walls in Farsi, rather than Arabic, stated “Qasem Soleimani is our leader,” giving the lie to Iran’s insistence that this was purely an Iraqi protest.
The Americans claim Soleimani was actively plotting an attack on US military personnel in Iraq when they targeted him for a drone attack.
Iran, with the world’s second largest gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves, is facing economic meltdown and nationwide protests.
Millions of Iranians have taken to the streets in protest at the corruption of ruling mullahs and their wanton spending on conflict and terror.
In a panic, Soleimani, acting on instructions of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the IRGC to launch a murderous crackdown on the peaceful protesters. An estimated 1,500 were killed, and at least 4,000 wounded and 12,000 arrested.
Soleimani ordered a shoot-to-kill policy that has seen masked snipers on government buildings shooting unarmed, young protesters in the head and chest. IRGC thugs and security agents then scoured the country’s hospitals, dragging the wounded from their beds.
The uprising was triggered by the regime’s decision to triple gas prices. This was the last straw for a nation whose citizens have been impoverished by the venally corrupt regime that for 40 years has stolen Iran´s wealth for the benefit of its rulers and to wage proxy wars across the Middle East.
Similar nationwide protests have raged across Iraq in recent weeks, where young Iraqis demanded an end to Iranian interference in their country and the expulsion of Soleimani and his cohorts.
In a chilling interview Soleimani claimed “We know how to deal with protesters in Iran,” as once again he deployed masked gunmen to murder hundreds of Iraqi demonstrators.
Qasem Soleimani was one of the most vicious criminals in Iran’s history. Pretending to aid the West in their war against ISIS, Soleimani oversaw the genocidal massacre of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis in the ancient Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul, leaving smoking ruins in his wake.
With his elimination, the process of overthrowing the mullahs and restoring peace, justice and democracy in Iran will be greatly expedited. The international community cannot continue to treat the theocratic regime in Iran as a normal nation state.
The belligerent, repressive and vicious behaviour of the regime proves that attempts at negotiation or appeasement are pointless.
Struan Stevenson is the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CIC) and international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.
Source: The Herald, 4 Jan 2020