Qasem Soleimani, a commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in charge of the notorious Quds Force, reportedly offered Iranian support to Palestinian forces in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Bloomberg Politics reports that Soleimani made the offer “in a phone call late Monday with leaders of groups in Gaza,” citing a post on the IRGC’s news website.
The post did not explain what kind of assistance Soleimani had in mind, but his Quds Force is Iran’s all-star terrorism squad, charged with destabilizing adversary governments and doing whatever it takes to win Iran’s wars on foreign soil. Soleimani is fresh off a successful campaign in support of dictator Bashar Assad in Syria and is being presented to the Iranian people as a conquering war hero. He has been described as the most popular public figure in Iran due to his military successes.
Bloomberg notes that Soleimani “spoke a day after the head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, called on all ‘resistance’ groups in the region to come up with a unified strategy to take back Jerusalem.” Hezbollah is Iran’s puppet and is particularly close to the Quds Force, so this is a coordinated strategy to foment “resistance.”
Also noteworthy are the individuals on the other end of the phone line when Soleimani pledged complete Iranian support. Radio Free Europe identifies them as “Palestinian commanders of Islamic Jihad and the Izz Al-Deen Qassam brigades, the armed wings of the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.”
RFE notes that General Mohammed Baqeri, the Iranian army’s chief of staff, said yesterday that Trump’s “foolish move” on Jerusalem could provoke a new Palestinian uprising, while Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami said Trump’s decision would “hasten the destruction of the Zionist regime and double the unity of Muslims.”
Hundreds of demonstrators on the streets of Tehran reportedly echoed Hatami’s prediction of hastened Israeli demise. The square where they protested has a neon sign with a clock counting down until the destruction of Israel, using Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s deadline of 2030 for the end of the Jewish state.
The problem facing Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian jihad groups is that protests against Trump’s Jerusalem decision have fallen well short of the “Arab street” detonation that was promised. Iran urged much more violence and stronger political opposition from other Muslim states. Tehran spent the day yesterday hectoring the Arab League for what it saw as a tepid response to Trump, with relatively restrained verbal condemnation and no concrete action plan.
The problem facing the civilized world is that Qasem Soleimani is exactly the sort of person Iran would assign to liven up those protests and put some more corpses on the street – in Gaza, in other Arab states, and maybe even in Europe, if his reach is long enough.