The Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is having a new commander and he is very clear on the future action of his unit.
Brigadier-General Esmail Ghaani, appointed as force commander by Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, on January 3, said at a special ceremony in Tehran, the capital of Iran, on January 20, that his force would follow in Soleimani’s footsteps.
“Iran will powerfully continue Lieutenant General Soleimani’s path,” Ghaani, 62, said. “Resistance is the only way to defeat enemies.”
Soleimani was killed on January 3 in an American drone attack as he drove out of Baghdad International Airport.
His killing, the US administration said, came in response to his involvement in the killing of American citizens.
Nonetheless, Soleimani’s assassination was part of a new wave of US measures against the Islamic Republic, within a showdown aiming at clipping its regional nails.
Soleimani was by far the most prominent Iranian military commander and a close associate of the Iranian supreme leader. His killing left a bitter taste in the mouths of Iran’s top military commanders.
Founded in 1980, the Quds Force is Iran’s long arm in the region. It sends its officers to train the members of militias affiliated to Iran in regional states.’
The force also has multiple training centers in different parts of Iran.
The Islamic Republic now moves the strings in several regional states, including in Syria; Iraq; Lebanon, and Yemen, and the Quds Force is its tool in this regard.
Expectations are high that the Quds Force will work in the coming days to prove that Soleimani’s killing has not weakened it, but made it stronger.
Ghaani called for standing strong against Iran’s enemies.
“All threats can be turned into opportunities if we fulfil our duties,” he said.
This opens, however, the door wide for speculation on what the force is up to in the coming days.
This is particularly true after the Revolutionary Guard Corps said on January 20 that it would target three Arab states in the coming period.
Such a threat is probably ringing the alarm in Arab capitals now, especially in the Gulf region, which falls within the range of easy targets for Iran.
Attacks were staged against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia in mid-September last year, giving the Arab Gulf rivals of the Islamic Republic an insight into what it can do.
The attacks negatively affected production from the facilities, which are run by Saudi oil giant, Aramco, and threatened world oil supplies.
Fears of Iranian reprisals, following Soleimani’s death, were probably behind Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad’s hasty visit to Tehran on January 12.
Qatar is home to the largest US military base in the Gulf region. Al-Udeid Air Base houses thousands of American troops. The drone that targeted Soleimani’s convoy on January 3 is believed to have taken off from this base.
The same fears are driving security action in the Gulf region and the Red Sea, especially off the coast of Yemen and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait which is within the reach of the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in Yemen.
Soon after Iran struck the US military base in Iraq with ballistic missiles on January 8, Khamenei said that such military actions are not enough.
The US forces, he said, have to leave the region altogether.
“The issue of revenge is another issue. They were slapped last night which is another issue. Such military actions will not be enough. The United States’ corruptive presence in the region must come to an end. They have brought war, sedition, destruction, and also the destruction of infrastructures to the region,” the Iranian supreme leader said.
The ultimatums of the new commander of the Quds Force up the ante in the region and add to speculation on where Iran can hit next.