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Qassem Soleimani killing

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Qassem Soleimani killing

What to study?

For Prelims: What Quds force?

For Mains: Implications of the latest event.

Context: Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, was recently killed in a US strike at Baghdad International Airport.

He was the long-serving head of Iran’s Quds (“Jerusalem”) Force and has been seen as a deadly adversary by America and its allies.


What has the US said?

The US Department of Defense has stated that the US military had taken the “decisive step to protect US personnel abroad by killing Soleimani, the head of Quds Force, which is the overseas operations wing of the IRGC and a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation.”

  • According to the State Department, the regime in Tehran “is responsible for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq since 2003”. This, according to the US, “accounts for 17% of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies”.
  • In recent years, Quds Force plots have been uncovered in countries including Germany, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Bahrain, and Turkey.

BackgroundIranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC):

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini set up the IRGC in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution ended to protect the Islamic order of the new Iranian government.

IRGC has contributed roughly 125,000 men to Iran’s forces and has the capability of undertaking asymmetric warfare and covert operations.

This includes the Quds Force that over the years has established links with the Hezbollah of Lebanon, Shi’ite militias in Iraq, Shi’ites in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

What is the Quds Force?

Quds is the Arabic word for Jerusalem, and is responsible for carrying out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities.

The force is responsible for training, financing and providing assistance to some extremist groups overseas.

It also undertakes Iranian missions in other countries, including covert ones.

What does Soleimani’s death mean for US-Iran relations?

  • Soleimani’s death would result in a dramatic escalation in relations between the US and Iran.
  • The strike has left the Middle East on edge, with possible repercussions beyond the region.
  • The killing would make Iran more decisive in resisting the US, while anti-US forces would exact revenge across the Muslim world.
  • The killing could have a ripple effect in any number of countries across the Middle East where Iran and the US compete for influence.

Sources: the Hindu.