IRAN ROUNDUP for December 27th thru January 3rd: The Imploding IRGC Starts 2020 with a Bang

A Terrorist Kingpin Bites the Dust

Soleimani photographed with the ring that remained on his finger, after the drone attack.

By Editors of The Free Iran Herald 

Updates on events unfolding in Iran

When Qassem Soleimani attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad, he forgot that there was no longer an appeaser administration in the White House.

The news of the surprise attack by US forces at the Baghdad airport Thursday evening that killed the notorious IRGC Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, alongside several Iraqi Shi’a militia leaders, was received with joy throughout the region.

Average citizens in Iraq and Syria, whose countries had been ravaged by the wars and imperialistic adventures Soleimani had implemented, poured into the streets to dance and celebrate.

In Iran, which remains under heavy IRGC lockdown, people were unable to publicly express their emotions, but those able to contact friends and relatives in the West said that most Iranians were happy and relieved to know that one of their of most brutal oppressors was dead. Iranians were also pleased with US President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement of Soleimani’s death, which pointed out the role he played in the mass slaughter of Iranian anti-regime protestors last month.

As-yet-unconfirmed reports are indicating that Soleimani was betrayed by rival commanders within the IRGC itself. One report stated that three IRGC generals, independently of each other, had provided American intelligence with data on Soleimani’s location and movements. These reports were given greater credibility after Mohsen Sazegara, one of the founders of the Revolutionary Guards, who later defected to the West, stated in an interview with a Persian-language European news outlet that elements within the Qods Force had informed the Americans about Soleimani’s travels inside Iraq. It is all too probable that, in the intense factional infighting that is the Khomeinist regime, Soleimani, who had attained a high profile and huge power base for himself, would have had a myriad of rivals and competitors who’d do anything to see him removed from the scene.

Regardless of the internal dynamics in Tehran, Soleimani’s death marked the defeat of a desperate campaign he had led since October to preserve the IRGC’s domination over Iraq, which had become shaken after the Iraqi people rose up in a wave of protests against the IRGC, its Shi’a militia proxy enforcers, and the puppet government they had installed in Baghdad. Soleimani had personally overseen the repression against the Iraqi protestors, repeatedly traveling to Baghdad to command his units, in one case pushing aside Iraq’s Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi. At the time, Iranian analysts had observed that Soleimani’s actions indicated that the Tehran regime saw the Iraqi protests as an existential threat to its empire, and that Soleimani saw his hasty attempts to brutally quash the protests as a do-or-die situation for himself.

The December 31st attack on the US embassy in Baghdad had not come as a shock to informed observers, as Tehran had been threatening to do it since October.

Soleimani, for his part, had previous experience in attacking American diplomatic missions, as he had organized the 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Seeing the lack of response from the then-Obama administration, and the way the mainstream press in America had covered up the IRGC’s role in the Benghazi attack, probably led Soleimani to believe he could do it again without consequences. One of his cohorts in planning the December 31st Baghdad manoeuvre, Hadi al-Amari, leader of the Badr Brigade, one of the militia groups within the Tehran-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al Shaabi), had met with Obama personally in 2011, when Al-Amari was a member of the Iraqi cabinet. Thus, the years-long support the Obama administration had given to IRGC and proxy activities in Iraq had given these commanders a false sense of their own strength, and imperviousness to countermeasures.

When reality finally bit on the night of January 3rd, it bit hard. In addition to Soleimani, the US drone strike also killed Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the Hashd al Shaabi, and another leader of the Baghdad embassy strike.

Throughout the events of the recent days, the Khomeinist regime’s western lobbyists, and its appeasers in the left-wing and liberal media and political worlds, have been dutifully propagating Tehran’s line. The hardened militia fighters who stormed the Baghdad embassy were described by the New York Times as “mourners,” while partisan journalists tried to denote the bloodless incident, which ended in the Shi’a fighters withdrawing from the embassy grounds after US troops stood firm, as “Trump’s Benghazi.”

These uninformed attempts to utilize complex Middle Eastern geopolitics for simple, domestic American partisan politics reached a new level after Soleimani’s death. Left wing opponents of Donald Trump, none of whom have much awareness of the on-the-ground situation in the Middle East, decided to express their sympathies for the assassinated terrorist leader. Hollywood’s Rose McGowan actually apologized to “Iran” (falsely equating the Khomeinist dictatorship with the nation it oppresses) for the strike, and called the Trump administration “terrorist.” Actor John Cusack called President Trump’s action “fascist.” These juvenile comments aroused condemnation from Middle Eastern observers who had lived and seen Soleimani’s brutality.  

The Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential candidates all took a similar position, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all agreeing that, as Warren stated “his reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.” These words are in accord with the Tehran lobby’s propaganda, as expressed by the Democratic Party-linked National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and its leading figures, such as Trita Parsi and Negar Mortezavi.

In fact, the nearly-bankrupt regime is in no position to initiate a wider conflict, unless it is willing to exterminate itself by losing such a war. The killing of Soleimani, and the continuing attacks on Hashd al Shaabi positions on Friday evening, are sending a message to Tehran that it can no longer interfere in other nations without impunity.

Tehran’s traditional enablers, the nations of the European Union, are also striking a cautious note. Jean-Yve Le Drian, the French foreign minister, called on Tehran “to avoid any measure that could possibly aggravate regional instability, or lead to a serious nuclear proliferation crisis,” while a German government spokesperson admitted that “The American action was a reaction to a series of military provocations for which Iran is responsible.” These remarks show that the Europeans, whose interest is in making money first and foremost, have no appetite for the Khomeinist regime’s self-destructive wars, and will not stand by Tehran if it initiates an economy-crashing conflict.

Meanwhile, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei has appointed deputy Qods Force commander Esmail Ghaani to succeed Soleimani. Ghaani is seen by most Iranians as an unremarkable, careerist IRGC officer who will not be as effective a commander as his predecessor.

In the USA, however, Iranian Americans are continuing to demand justice against another agent of the Khomeinist regime, Seyed Hossein Mousavian. Now a professor at Princeton University, Mousavian was Tehran’s ambassador to Germany in 1992, when four Kurdish dissidents were assassinated by regime agents while dining at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. 25 leading Iranian Americans, representing multiple Iranian political opinions, issued an open letter on January 1st to Attorney General William Barr, calling on Barr in investigate Mousavian’s presence in the US. “Mousavian’s presence on US soil serves no purpose but to promote the ideology and interests of America’s staunchest enemy and sow fear and division within the Iranian-American community,” the letter read.

As this report was being finalized, news of  another air strike just north of Baghdad broke. So far the only information is that five member of the Khomeinist regime backed militia, were killed; no names have yet been released. 


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