Dr Hamaneh Karimi-Kia
Head of Press Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Pakistan
It is now seven days since General Qassem Soleimani got martyred by the US. In this article, I intend to address seven effects of this martyrdom for Iran, the region, the United States, and the Muslim world.
1. The first effect of Qassem Soleimani’s martyrdom was the destruction of the myth of American invincibility and solemnity in the region. Until recently, no one has challenged the US presence in Iraq. By the terrorist attack on Baghdad’s airport and the assassination of General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the US has clearly shown that it pays no respect to the Iraqi government and sovereignty. The same violation of Iraqi sovereignty and attack on Iraqi military forces caused the Iraqi government and parliament demand the withdrawal of US troops and all foreign forces. On the one hand, Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Friday condemned the US move to Martyr Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani and Commander of Hashd Al-sha’abi, Abu al-Mahdi Mohandis, as violation of Iraqi national sovereignty. Referring to the martyrdom of Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the successor of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Organization (al-Hashed al-Sha’abi), he said: “Assassination of an Iraqi military commander holding an official post is an assault on Iraq.”
On the other hand, he Iraqi parliament approved a draft bill Sunday requiring the government to ask Washington to withdraw American troops from the country. Holding a special meeting on the withdrawal of US troops, the Iraqi members of parliament unanimously voted for this bill. In the aftermath of this event, Abdul Mahdi demanded that the process of withdrawal of US troops shall be clarified, stressing the seriousness of the Iraqi government.
These developments showed the difference between Iran’s presence in Iraq and America’s presence there. The Martyrdom of General Soleimani highlighted the difference between working to protect Iraqi territorial integrity from breaking national sovereignty and invading territory and occupation for imperialist purposes. Compare the fact that the Iraqi Prime Minister came to the airport to welcome Qassem Soleimani, with the tragic entrance of Trump on Iraqi soil in Christmas 2019.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, with prior notice to the Iraqi government, attacked several US bases in Iraq at dawn on Wednesday, including its security eye and ears in the area, the Ayn al-Assad base. Iran did so in response to a US attack on Baghdad airport and the assassination of two Iranian and Iraqi military commanders and several other militants. At this time, for the first time in post-World War II, a government attacked US bases and responded to its attempt to break the sovereignty of other countries. Don’t forget that President Trump traveled to Ayn Al-Assad military base overnight last Christmas (2019) without informing the Iraqi government. This was an overt violation of national sovereignty and territorial boundaries of Iraq. Then, shortly after Christmas 2020, the same military base was destroyed by Iran.
The assassination of General Soleimani also showed the hypocrisy and lies of the Americans: claiming to fight terrorists and killing the hero of the fight against terrorists who was the number one enemy of ISIS and al-Nusra; claiming to support human rights and repeated and grave human rights abuses including violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity in the attack on Baghdad airport, directly threatening Iranians, killing Iranian and Iraqi soldiers with rockets brutally during the peace time (lack of war); US has also threatens to attack Iran’s cultural and historical sites that are part of Iran’s cultural heritage and a common human heritage registered with UNESCO. These threats are completely illegal under humanitarian law and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Thus, Trump has transformed the face of America, which has so far seemed to be a civilized country and a human rights defender in the international community into an interventionist and human rights violent country, and anti-American sentiment spread around the world and across the country. The world has witnessed anti-American slogans and demonstrations, including in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kashmir, Russia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Yemen, Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In many Western countries, the US government’s current policies have also been criticized and challenged. In the United States, Britain and Germany, thousands of demonstrators near major government centers warned their governments against war with Iran and raised the flags of Iran, Iraq and Palestine to protest against the incorrect US policy towards the Middle East, including war, interventionism, imperialism, and terror. Protestors called for the withdrawal of US troops from the region.
2. The beginning of an important phase in the withdrawal of US troops from the region and the Islamic world is another effect of General Suleimani’s martyrdom, which is associated with the first effect. With the brutal attack on the car carrying General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, Islamic zeal was awakened in Iraq, and the movement to expel America was formed simultaneously in Iraq society and political institutions. The Iraqi Parliament’s resolution embodied a public demand to expel American invaders and their Western allies from Iraq.
3. Given the importance of the role of “martyrdom” in Islamic culture, with the Martyrdom of General Soleimani, the unity of the Islamic Ummat and the legitimacy of the resistance forces became increasingly stronger. Martyrdom and dying in the fight against oppression and invasion is an irrefutable myth in Islamic culture.
General Soleimani’s Martyrdom stirred up Iranian and Islamic zeal. Not only Iranians, but also many Muslims and freedom-seekers around the world, have been impressed by the terrible and vicious assassination of Commander Soleimani. So, they cried out for revenge and shouted: “death to America”. From the earliest hours after hearing the news of General Soleimani’s Martyrdom, Muslims and rights activists around the world have responded. People, media, officials and figures in Islamic countries including Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine, Malaysia, Indonesia and Syria have condemned the cowardly assassination of Soleimani and demonstrated against it. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned Trump last year that martyrdom is a force that should not be underestimated. But Trump ignored it and resorted to the assassination tool. He did not know that the image of martyr Soleimani would become a banner of Muslims gathering around and rebelling against America.
In this regard, the unity of the two nations of Iran and Iraq is exemplary after the Martyrdom of General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes. For a long time, the United States has been trying to divide the two nations, but its move to assassinate two Iranian and Iraqi symbols of Islamic resistance together, has brought the unity of two nations into a new phase. The flag of Iran and Iraq was raised together in public demonstrations in both countries, and the head of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, General Bagheri, kissed the coffin of Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes.
Muslim users of the social media welcomed the firing of Iranian missiles at the US base in Iraq, calling it a sign of the power of the Islamic world. Users pointed to the role and impact of General Soleimani’s Martyrdom as a turning point in the awakening of the Muslim world by selecting this verse from the Holy Quran and publishing it in cyberspace: ” إنه من سليمان وإنه بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ألا تعلوا علي وأتوني مسلمين, (verses 30-31, Surat Al-Naml- Translation: Indeed, This is from Solomon and this is: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims]). The image of Iranian missiles next to this verse is a combination of faith and power.
4. The Martyrdom of General Soleimani had important and decisive effects on Iranian society and led to the unification of the Iranian people and the renewal of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A commander’s martyrdom means that fresh blood is thrown into the veins of resistance, and this will power the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Some analysts see General Soleimani’s martyrdom and subsequent developments as the third phase of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The first revolution was the overthrow of the Shah and the collapse of the West-dependent monarchy. The Second Islamic Revolution was the seizure of the US Embassy in Iran and the expulsion of interventionist Americans from Islamic Iran. At this time, the anti-imperialist nature of the Islamic Revolution of Iran became fully apparent. The third revolution, which has begun its main wave, will be the expulsion of Americans from the entire region.
5. The US decision to remove the most influential Iranian commander, as well as Iran’s strong response to the attack on US bases, showed Iran’s power in the world. This power was revealed not only by military power, but also by the power of faith and the religious and political influence of Iran. For a week, Iran has become the headline news for the media of all countries around the world. The statements of the Iranian leadership and president were broadcast live across the world, and analysts were trying to speculate on Iran’s power and reaction.
The world media acknowledged the importance and potentials of Iran, and Iran became a global issue. Some Pakistani analysts in their analysis of Iran’s attack on the US base at Ayn al-Assad in Iraq stated that Iran appeared to be far beyond a regional power in response to the US and indicated that it could be a superpower. Since, without any fear of the next American step, Iran attacked the most important US base in the region with fully internally made missiles and showed its potential for a second attack. The credit that Iran found was due to the leader’s courage, the people’s determination, and the capability of their armed forces. The US tried to weaken Iran by the assassination, but it actually gave Iran a chance to maneuver its power.
6. The decision to assassinate Soleimani also had an impact on American domestic developments. The effects of the assassination on undermining the international image and position of the US in the Middle East had a clear sign of Trump’s mismanagement. The US government administration was handed over to Trump when a relative détente had taken place between Iran and the United States as they had signed an international agreement. But Trump shattered all hopes of managing the Iran-US relationship, and again brought tensions. This means trouble for America and voters and the US Congress do not want it. Therefore, this step may end with the impeachment of Trump or the loss of votes in the next election.
7. Another impact of General Soleimani’s Martyrdom is on the Persian Gulf states. Persian Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and others, in dread of the aftermath of the assassination of Soleimani and the prospect of a new war in the region, were completely passive and did not even dare to ask the US to use their bases to attack Iran or its allies. Users of the cyberspace used a Quran verse to describe this passive reaction, which has a literary aesthetic Simile given the name of Martyr Soleimani. Verse 18 of Surat al-Naml says: “يَا أَيُّهَا النَّمْلُ ادْخُلُوا مَسَاكِنَكُمْ لَا يَحْطِمَنَّكُمْ سُلَيْمَانُ وَجُنُودُهُ”. Translation: “O ants enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers.”
After the Iranian reaction to the assassination of General Soleimani, we saw the US withdrawal. Trump’s remarks at a news conference on Wednesday after Iran’s attack on the Ayn al-Assad base were passive, with Trump referring only to increased sanctions and no threat of another attack on Iran. When Trump ordered the attack on General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, he did not imagine that their Martyrdom would create such a wave of vengeance and hatred. He did not know that their path would be continued more determined after their death.
The nations of the region know that, by submission and subordination, America and the Zionists will come sooner. The Holy Qur’an says in Surat al-Baqarah, verse 120: “وَلَن تَرضىٰ عَنكَ اليَهودُ وَلَا النَّصارىٰ حَتّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُم”. That means: “the Jews and the Christians will never be satisfied with you, until you fully submit to their desires, and to obey their religion.” The US policy towards the countries that follow them is the policy of exaction and demanding (“Do More” policy). The Muslim nations can only achieve self-reliance by progressing in the way of resistance to arrogant powers and only by relying on internal forces, by promoting self-confidence and empowerment of the revolutionary and capable youth. Real power lies in true independence, and dependence on the others, contradicts with national dignity and pride. Martyr Soleimani showed that even one person could save the fate of a people and even the fate of a region. Every nation has Soleimanis which must be known.
As I said in my previous article, “The martyrdom of General Qassem Soleimani and the awakening of the Islamic world,” hard revenge does not mean killing a few people, it will mean the complete withdrawal of US troops from the region. And this is a major strategic change in the region. But the major and true change is not in the outside world, but in the inner world, and that is self-belief and faith.
The miracle of the blood of Soleimani is to restore unity and empathy among the Islamic nations. Imagine the people of Iran and Iraq, who had been in a bloody war for eight years; now with the bravery of veterans of those same days of war, they came together and shouted: Death to America! Blood fertilizes the seedlings of Islam and faith, and this is the difference between divine war and material war. In the material war the highest value is human life, and at one end, every soldier fears death. But in the divine battle, every fighter desires to get martyr.
The blood of a martyr in the divine warfare not only does not frighten other soldiers but also makes them more determined in their path, as millions of Muslims today are shouting that they are ready to fight and avenge the blood of Soleimani. This is the greatest effect of the blood of martyr Soleimani. As 1400 years ago, the blood of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of the Prophet of Islam, led to the survival and continuation of the Islam and the idea of fighting bullying. The path of martyr Soleimani is the continuation of Imam Hussein’s path. Symbolically, some dust from graveyard of Imam Hussein was also buried with him. Yazid did not gain the true success in issuing the order of killing Imam Hussein. In the same way, Trump issued the order to assassinate Soleimani and turned himself into an ever evil character.
Dr Hamaneh Karimi-Kia