What Happened To IRI Hegemony After A Year Without Soleimani?
One year after the drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force, let’s have a closer look at how his elimination will affect the Iran-US confrontation in the Middle East and the future of the IRGC backed militia in the region.
We would like to make the point that The Quds Force is no different with Ghaani and/or without Soleimani. The only game changer in the propensity of the IRGC to spread its terrorist activities is their ability to fund said activities. Therefore, should the incoming Biden administration reverse the United States’ policy on sanctions and re-enter the flawed Iran deal, the consequences would be dire, as we will attempt to outline below.
The story of Soleimani ended on a Baghdad airport access road in the early hours of Friday, January 3, 2020, when a salvo of missiles discharged from a US MQ-9 Reaper drone. This is where the story of Esmail Ghaani begins…
According to Soleimani’s will, another largely unknown IRGC Commander, Esmail Ghaani was appointed to replace Soleimani at the head of the Quds Force. They used to be war sidekicks during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war. A reference to Esmail Ghaani’s can be found in the notorious letter sent by 24 IRGC commanders to then President Mohammad Khatami, during the July 1999 protests warning the president to resolve the matter right away as their patience was wearing thin. The protest was brutally cracked down the same night, leaving hundreds killed and injured.
Some believes Qassem Soleimani’s death had significant consequences for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force, Iran’s proxy militia in the region, and has weakened the regime in Iran, doubting Esmail Ghaani’s aptitude to fill the void left by Soleimani’s death and maintain the vast networks of militia groups Soleimani built over decades.
The truth is that Ghaani joined the IRGC before Soleimani and ”has always been at the forefront and one of the main decision-makers” according to former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezae. At the same time, IRGC has repeatedly promised to avenge the slain commander.
Ghaani should not be underestimated as a terrorist. He was sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2012 for being responsible of financing and arming proxies of the Quds Force.
He has been reportedly involved in the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, as well as the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza.
He has been actively supporting Ansar Allah (the Houthis) in Yemen.
Since his appointment to the Quds Force, he visited the hotbeds of terrorism training, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq on several occasions.
He continues to enforce the Islamic republic’s plan to remove American forces from the Middle East, following his superior, Iran’s IRGC Chief Commander Hussein Salami, to conduct “a new type of jihad against authoritarian regimes and their stewards”. An order given to Ghaani on the one-year anniversary of Soleimani’s martyrdom celebration. It is a fact that the targeting of American interests in Iraq has not stopped after the death of Soleimani and the Quds Force is still active in Syria.
But the rescinding of the Iran deal by Trump administration had a tremendous financial impact on the Islamic republic vastly reducing the regime’s terror sponsoring and proxy funding activities.
Though the impact that Soleimani’s assassination did have a deterring effect on the Islamic Republic’s projects in the region, it is unwise and naive to conclude that these projects have been fully halted and that the IRI has stopped conducting its nefarious activities.
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