Soleimani was killed just as the ground on which the regional empire he created has begun to shake. The ongoing protests in Iraq and Lebanon have called for the sectarian and corrupt political classes in both countries to step down. In both Beirut and Baghdad, Tehran has been part of those political systems, and as such, complicit with their wrongdoings.
Especially in Iraq, the Shia population has risen up against Iran’s outsized role and overt interference in their country’s affairs. Until recently, Soleimani was chairing key Iraqi security meetings. This was also the case after the peaceful Iraq protests broke out last October, when he suggested a lethal crackdown on those protests — carried out by Iran-aligned militias like KH — that killed hundreds of Iraqis. His famous line reported from that meeting, “We in Iran know how to deal with protesters,” was also an omen for the unprecedented lethal crackdown of the Iran protests a month later. When Khamenei was reportedly enraged and disappointed over Iranian protesters bringing down and burning his effigies, Soleimani vowed revenge if only one tear was shed by Khamenei. Soleimani was thus the face of the Islamic Republic as a counterrevolutionary force in successive waves of the Arab Spring, while protesters in Iran have feared the deployment of his well-trained regional militiamen to crack down on them.
Therefore, as much as Soleimani was revered and respected as the genius operator in Iran’s part of the world, his death has been a cause of celebration on Iraqi streets and among Syrians who loathed him for his role in bringing death and destruction to their homelands. [Continue reading…]