Qasem Soleimani, also referred to as “The Shadow Commander” by national media networks, was a Major General of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Quds Force. The Quds Force is known as an “elite clandestine wing” of the IRGC. Soleimani first began to establish himself when Iran was actively working to resolve conflict with Iraq and Syria through his direct role in the expansion of Iranian influence. He was a well-decorated military officer and was once referred to by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as a “living martyr of the revolution.” However, his ruling methods led the Iranian people to hold drastically different opinions about his life. During Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s leadership, Soleimani bombed and gassed the Sunni population to limit their voice. The United States regards him as a “ruthless killer” and summarizes his career as one of terrorist activity. For example, in the early 2000s, Soleimani smuggled explosive projectiles that killed hundreds of American troops.
On January 3rd of 2019, it was reported that President Donald Trump had ordered a drone strike on Iraq’s largest international airport, Baghdad International Airport, with the intent to target General Qasem Soleimani. The attack resulted in ten deaths, including that of Soleimani, and increased tension between the United States and Iran. The U.S. claims the order was a defensive approach and intended to relieve an “imminent threat”. According to the Pentagon, Soleimani was actively “developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”, which led to President Trump’s decision to act first in order “to stop a war.”
The U.S.’ retaliation led to concerns that Iraq would avenge General Soleimani, which prompted American military facilities in the Middle East to increase security and caused the U.S. Embassy to strongly advise Americans to “depart Iraq immediately”. Indeed, General Soleimani’s death continues to loom over the United States’ military decisions and his followers, who considered him a martyr.