With Soleimani’s demise, Israel’s enemies lost their best player

The arch-terrorist’s assassination could be considered the most significant one ever carried out in the Middle East.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The American drone strike that killed the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – Quds Force on Friday is the most consequential assassination ever of an individual in the Middle East, according to Yoav Limor, writing in Israel Hayom on Sunday.

General Qassem Soleimani was so powerful that he helped form the governments of Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, saved Syria for President Assad, thereby making Iran’s presence there a fact of life, and had inordinate influence from Afghanistan to the Gaza Strip, Limor writes.

His fingerprints could also be seen in the terror infrastructures he built all over the world, all of them ready to spring into action at Iran’s orders. This could be soon, given Iran’s promise of revenge in retaliation for Soleimani’s death, although Iran is known for playing the long game, and payback could take weeks if not months.

For now, the Americans and other Western forces in Iraq and Syria are hunkering down and going into defensive mode just in case the vengeance that Iran’s leaders are threatening in shrill tones will be attempted sooner rather than later.

Soleimani’s importance lay in the fact that he was a clear and present danger, unlike Al-Baghdadi or Bin Laden, who presided over terrorist groups in decline, Limor says. Soleimani not only ordered countless attacks on Western forces and Israel, as well as his Sunni enemies, but was in the planning stages of others. According to reports, he was preparing an attack on U.S. diplomats.

Just two examples suffice to show the threat he embodied. The Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) he set up, directed and paid to fight ISIS in Iraq in the last couple of years are now officially a part of the Iraqi army, so that Iran indirectly controls large swathes of Iraqi territory.

They have clashed with American forces several times over the past year, rocketing bases, including the attack that precipitated last week’s assassination.

Soleimani was also a real threat to Israel. He was the main architect who turned Hezbollah into a regular army with elite units and over 100,000 missiles and rockets pointing at the Jewish state from Lebanon and Syria.

IRGC forces have set up terror bases in Syria from which they have already attacked Israel, and it is no secret that they are trying to turn Hezbollah’s rockets into precision-guided missiles, a threat Israel’s government is determined to prevent.

Soleimani also funded Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, which is the main rival to Hamas there (although Iran also partially supports Hamas as well). It was the PIJ that drove hundreds of thousands of Israelis into safe rooms in November when it launched hundreds of rockets at the south in a two-day period to retaliate for Israel’s assassination of one of its top military leaders, Bahaa Abu al-Ata.

The general, called a “living martyr” by Iran’s Supreme Leader for his courage and readiness to sacrifice for the Islamic cause, was a patron and mentor to so many terrorist causes in the region  that most of them probably feel rather like orphans now that he is dead, Limor writes.

Soleimani was an enemy who displayed an unusual combination of military and political gifts and used his skills to murder thousands while extending the influence of a terrorist state far beyond Iran’s shores. Israel’s enemies have lost their “most meaningful player,” Limor says.