The assassination by U.S. airstrike of Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Friday immediately ignited concern that the asymmetrical warfare he famously championed would not only survive his death but also avenge it.
U.S. military facilities across the Middle East ramped up security and the U.S. embassy urged American citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” after the Pentagon confirmed President Donald Trump had ordered the strike against Soleimani.
The killing was not like other attacks to eliminate enemies of the U.S.—the raids that killed Osama bin Laden or ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Soleimani was a major public figure in Iran, a Major General in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, and easily the most popular official in an Iranian government that generally is not.
Inside Iran, and on social media posts circulated globally, he was the frontman of, as well as chief architect for, Iran’s regional ambitions – in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and, most immediately in Iraq, where he met his end.