The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment

Hillel Frisch, Eytan Gilboa, Gershon Hacohen, Doron Itzchakov and Alex Joffe, BESA Center

With permission, read full article at BESA Center.

Executive Summary: The targeting of Qassem Soleimani, commander
of the Quds Force and arguably the second most powerful man in Iran
after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a major blow to the
Islamic Republic of Iran. His death will likely result in a devastating
chain of suspicion and insecurity in Iran’s nodes of power.

At first glance, one might think otherwise. The Islamic Republic and
its proxies in Iraq and Lebanon have been, in the past two months,
the target of massive demonstrations against the Iran-backed militias.
Iranian consulates have been burned in, of all places, the Shiite holy
cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq. Instead of “Yankee Go Home”, the
protesters chanted “Iran, bara, bara”—“Iran Go Home” in Arabic.

To deflect popular anger away from Iran, Kata’ib Hezbollah, a major
militia in the larger pro-Iranian Hashd militia conglomerate, killed an
American contractor. The intention of this killing was presumably to
goad the US into a retaliatory