Soleimani's legacy to Iran: diverting citizens' money to costly proxy wars

By Salaam Times

Slain Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iranian leader Ali Khamenei are shown in 2018. []

Slain Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iranian leader Ali Khamenei are shown in 2018. []

The Iranian regime's insistence on upholding the legacy of slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani comes at the expense of the Iranian people, analysts say.

Before he was killed in a US strike in Baghdad on January 3, Soleimani led the IRGC's expansionist agenda through a number of proxy wars throughout the region, including in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan.

These initiatives have been costly, showing time and again Tehran's misplaced priorities, while Iranians grow more and more dissatisfied with the government and the spiralling economy.

"For years, the IRGC has claimed that Iran's active presence in the region is rooted in religion and in the spiritual influence of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei," said political analyst Karim Samadian.

Iranian Culture Minister Abbas Salehi presents a painting of Qassem Soleimani in the arms of a Shia imam to Soleimani's daughter Zeinab in May 2020. []

Iranian Culture Minister Abbas Salehi presents a painting of Qassem Soleimani in the arms of a Shia imam to Soleimani's daughter Zeinab in May 2020. []

A telling image. While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was addressing the Iranian regime's effort on improving the economy in January 2020, young girls living in squalor ran behind where he was speaking. [File]

A telling image. While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was addressing the Iranian regime's effort on improving the economy in January 2020, young girls living in squalor ran behind where he was speaking. [File]

The reality is that the IRGC is "struggling financially, and there is not as much cash to fill the pockets of IRGC commanders and regional allies", he said.

That lack of funding, due in part to the US government's sanctions against Iran and the IRGC in particular, is behind a recent escalation in discord and discontent among Iranian proxy groups, he said.

This proves that money, not religion, has in fact been the IRGC's "ideology" all along, Samadian said.

Divisions have been on the rise in eastern Syria, primarily between Iraqi militia Kataib Hizbullah and IRGC commanders as well as other proxy groups vying for power and influence in the region.

These fissures are mainly due to the frenzied competition for leadership and sources of wealth and influence among the dominant militias on the ground, who saw their monthly salary go down from $1,500 to less than $300 per fighter, according to Sheikh Mudar al-Asad, a member of the Syrian Tribal Council.

In Yemen, there has been a noticeable increase in recent months in the amount of drugs smuggled to parts of the country controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).

This increase is due, at least in part, to the Houthis' need to find alternative revenue streams as Iran cuts back its support to its proxies.

Misplaced priorities

Despite its dwindling funds, Tehran has continued to prioritise its spending on exporting terrorism, sectarianism and disinformation over the daily needs of the Iranian people.

On December 2, Iran's government presented to parliament a draft state budget of about $33.7 billion for the next fiscal year, which starts March 21, Iranian media reported.

The value of the draft budget is set at about 8,413 trillion IRR -- up 74% from last year's figures in rial terms but about $5 billion lower in hard currency terms because of the sharp fall of Iran's currency.

The budget includes 80.5 billion IRR ($327,000) to the Foundation for the Preservation and Publication of Qassem Soleimani's Works, generally referred to as the "Qassem Soleimani Foundation", which was set up after his death.

Soleimani's 29-year-old daughter Zeinab heads the organisation.

Zeinab issued a statement December 5 saying she would not accept the money, which would be better utilised if diverted to the public's needs.

However, further reporting revealed that the foundation received $400,000 in funding from the government this year, and the money was allocated to the Qassem Soleimani Foundation as a sub-category of this year's IRGC budget.

For the IRGC itself, funding abounds.

In March, Khamenei increased next year's funding for the IRGC by 33% more than the government's suggested allocation.

In another sign of misplaced priorities, the IRGC has been bankrolling monuments and painting murals of IRGC commanders. These include the "Beauty of Victory" mural at the entrance to Baghdad Airport, inaugurated June 19 by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

The mural shows Soleimani and PMF deputy head Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, both of whom were killed in the US strike near the airport, saluting a crowd of Iraqis.

A widely derided new statue of Soleimani was erected in the city of Jiroft in his home province of Kerman in June, amid the coronavirus crisis, with social media users criticising the Iranian regime's priorities.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Iran-aligned and funded Hizbullah unveiled a statue of Soleimani in the southern town of Maroun al-Ras.

Siphoning money from the Iranian people

While the Iranian people grapple with a worsening economic crisis, Khamenei also doubled the budget for the Basij, which is under the IRGC's control and is mostly used to crack down on domestic dissent.

Basij paramilitary forces were deployed during mass protests last November following a shock decision to hike the price of gasoline by up to 200%.

At least 304 men, women and children were killed by Iran's security forces during the crackdown, according to Amnesty International.

Tehran clearly deems the IRGC's interventions and crackdowns on protests more essential than medicine or food.

In March, Khamenei pledged to pull €1 billion ($1.2 billion) from Iran's National Development Fund to fight COVID-19, yet Iran's Health Ministry has received only 27% of those funds and cannot pay healthcare workers' salaries, IranWire reported, citing local news sources in Iran.

"A billion dollars has been withdrawn from the fund but has been spent somewhere else," Hossein Ali Shahriari, chairman of the parliament's health committee, told local news. "The government must come clean and respond to the just demands of health workers."

Rather than supporting Iran's healthcare workers with essential equipment and medicine as the pandemic swept the country, the IRGC in April unveiled a ridiculous contraption designed to "detect" COVID-19.

That was among many examples of the regime spending untold resources and precious time on improving the IRGC's tarnished image after a number of deadly mishaps before and after Soleimani's death.

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"Gaza punishment" has resumed. The commando and guerilla operations of the Hamas-affiliated forces into Israel and the killing of a significant number of Israelis have paved the way for the Israeli government's all-out attack on the Gaza Strip. According to the heads of the Israeli government, this attack was designed to destroy Hamas, but what is seen and all the news agencies of the world publish and broadcast it, is the merciless and full-scale bombing of the population living in Gaza. Of course, the "humanitarian" government! and the "democratic"! Israel has asked the residents of Gaza to leave. And of course this "human" desire! The state of Israel is made up of about two million people. Pay attention to the statistics: about two million people! Two million people who are under siege from all sides. And they only have a land route to the Sinai desert in Egypt. And Egypt has not agreed to the entry of Gaza residents there. And really, which country - especially the countries of the region with all their troubles - can accept two million displaced people? Such a plan does not seem to be practical. Although, maybe hundreds of thousands of people will die in such a situation to save their lives. Because this has started somewhere. Anthony Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, considered such a request from Israel as a move towards disaster and asked Israel to abandon such a request, but Israel's chicken has always had one leg and has always played its instrument,


Israel can neither swallow nor throw out this morsel stuck in its throat, but with all this, will they be able to fulfill their main goal - the destruction of Hamas? Maybe they will succeed in weakening or collapsing the military-organizational structure of Hamas, but what they will plant in its place will be a latent, more explosive and intense anger. Anger that will grow in the hearts of today's children and tomorrow's youth along with malice, sadness and hatred. The hellish and cruel punishment that covers all the residents of Gaza, even if it leads to the weakening or destruction of Hamas, will not end except for the spread of hatred and violence. And not only will Israel not achieve peace with the Palestinians, but also it will blow more wind on the flames of war with its own hands. Lasting peace will be possible only in the shadow of acceptance of Palestinian independence and withdrawal from the officially accepted territories before June 1967, or with some adjustment and dismantling of Israeli settlements in Palestinian lands. Let's not forget that Hamas and other Palestinian forces are not the "cause". They are considered as a result in the logical relationship of cause and effect. As long as the "cause" is still standing, there is also a background for the emergence of the effect. And woe to those who do not understand this relationship.


Role of the criminal regime of the Islamic Republic: in response to those who want to deny and distort any kind of support for the Palestinian people with the tactic of being close to the regime of the Islamic Republic, it seems that they do not have a proper understanding of political issues and its process. Because the regime of the Islamic Republic not only did not support the Palestinian movement, but it has dealt the biggest blows to this movement. The Islamic Republic regime, just as much as it has used religion and Islam - both good and bad - to advance its goals, it has also used the rights of the Palestinian people as a handhold to advance its evil goals. An eight years long war with Iraq and beating the drum of war with Khomeini's false slogans such as "the road to Quds passes through Karbala" and "if this war lasts for twenty years, we will stand", showed how Khomeini and his successors tried to maintain their sovereignty. They do not turn away from any kind of deception and hypocrisy. The regime of the Islamic Republic is considered the real enemy of the Palestinian national-secular movement just like Israel. Both Israel and the regime of the Islamic Republic have been involved in giving wings to Hamas to weaken the secular movement of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Will Israel achieve its goal - the destruction of Hamas? In the current bombing of Gaza, Israel has named its goal the complete destruction of Hamas. So far, they have killed and amputated thous


Qasem Soleimani was a hero; he was able to thwart hundreds of sinister schemes of the accursed America in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was able to recruit thousands of people against America in the forces of Quds and Fatemiyouns, and now these forces are fighting against America in these countries.


You are calling a murderer a hero. He was never against America, but he was seeking sectarian wars. He was trying to ignite sectarian wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq. Iran's interests have been in the wars of the mentioned countries. Iran is trying to dominate and influence all these countries. After the United States, I think Iran has had the biigest influence in this country in the last twenty years. It has even appointed ministers in the cabinet of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It has also sent thousands of people from Afghanistan to fight in Syria. Soleimani played a key role in all these crimes and interference. Yes, this person was a hero for Iran, but not for Afghanistan.


Isn't it a matter of shame that you are calling someone, who has killed thousands of innocent humans, a hero.