By: Eyal Zisser – Jewish News Syndicate; jns.org
For Iran’s friends and foes alike, Qassem Soleimani was second only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Tehran will struggle to find another strategist of his caliber.
For many in the Middle East, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the Islamic Republic’s elite extraterritorial black-ops arm, embodied Iran’s desires, aspirations and directives with respect to the country’s operations worldwide. He was also the man who controlled the purse strings with respect to funding the weapons that have so often ignited the region.
For Iran’s friends and foes alike, Soleimani was second only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—an ailing, elderly man who sits in an ivory tower in Tehran, detached from the harsh regional reality on the ground.
Little wonder then that Iran’s regional allies—Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Syrian President Bashar Assad and the leaders of the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Yemen—have been left feeling orphaned by the U.S. drone strike that killed him in Iraq on Friday morning.