Editor’s Note: This report presents a more critical perspective on the U.S. decision to kill Qasem Soleimani, regarding it as likely to have more negative impacts in the region going forward, rather than helping to work towards solutions. As ever, European Eye on Radicalization aims to publish a diversity of perspectives and as such does not endorse the opinions expressed by contributors. The views expressed in this article represent the author alone.
On January 2, the Pentagon announced that a U.S. drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The killing took place as Soleimani was leaving Baghdad International Airport. United States President Donald Trump said he gave the order to kill the Iranian general because he posed an imminent threat to U.S. and allied personnel in the country. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper defended the White House decision, and when asked by journalists, explained that Soleimani was planning attacks on US military installations and was therefore a legitimate target. Esper added that the U.S. did not want to go to war with Iran. However, it is certain that the killing of such an influential and important figure in Iran, with a direct link to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, will have serious repercussions within Iranian politics and in areas that fall under Tehran’s influence such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and the Gaza strip.