The Iranian regime has been balancing itself on two pillars since it took power in 1979; Suppression and terrorism. Naturally, with the help of Europe and the US under the flag of appeasing the regime and regional wars in the past years, the regime was able to prolong its life. Now with the death of Qasem Soleimani, that will not be so easy.
Terrorism has always been a serious lifeline for the regime with which internal suppression also becomes possible. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been tasked with the very important job of internal suppression and terrorism.
Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US airstrike on Friday, has been the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force since 1997. He was the main architect behind the regime’s warmongering tactics in the region and was also responsible for the slaughter of members of the Iranian Resistance, the regime’s largest opposition.
But that’s not all he was. He was the regime’s number two man and acted on Iran’s political and military stage. He had influence in the regime’s army, Ministry of Intelligence and some said was actually the acting foreign minister in Middle Eastern countries. Qasem Soleimani handpicked Iran’s ambassadors in countries friendly to the regime’s cause. The Commander of the Quds Force advised the regime’s all powerful Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenie, on whether to negotiate with or show animosity towards regional countries.
Some analysists say that now that Qasem Soleimani is gone, a new chapter has opened in the Middle East. It does not come as a surprise that top officials and Iran’s state-run media describe his demise as the death of the regime’s heart and spirit.
Without ongoing popular protests in Iraq and Iran and the regime’s slaughter of thousands in both countries, the US would not have had enough international legitimacy to eliminate the terrorist Quds commander.
As US President Trump said in a tweet today, Qasem Soleimani killed many people “over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters”.
According to a senior State Department official “the people of Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, are all rejecting the Iranian model at the same time. And there will not be tears shed in Iran for the death of Soleimani by so many Iranians – he recently killed 1,500 of them.”
“The IRGC and the Qods Force are famous for domestic oppression. They hate the IRGC and they hate the Qods Force, and I expect that you’ll see further protests in Iran,” he added in a press briefing on Friday.
Soleimani was the architect behind the deep connection between the regime and it militias in the region in the past two decades. The Iranian regime spent millions on creating a cult of personality around him and it is very unlikely that his successor, IRGC commander Ismail Qaani, would be able to take his place and be another “Haj Qasem” for Khamenei.
Qasem Soleimani’s death shattered the regime’s strategy in Iraq, greatly weakening the IRGC. The Guards and the regime will not be the same without him. This is turn will shorten the regime’s life.
The fragility of the regime inside Iran, mainly due to the existing anger of the people after Khamenei ordered the killing of at least 1,500 civilians during the November 2019 nationwide protests in the country, is a challenge for the regime and should not been ignored.
On the other hand, if Khamenei continues his miscalculations in heightening tensions between the regime and Iran and actually reacts to the killing of its chief terrorist, it will have very dangerous consequences for the regime.