Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani (left) stands on the frontlines during an offensive operation against Islamic State in the town of Tal Ksaiba, in Iraq, in 2015.
(photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
Iran’s Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani was awarded the country’s highest military honor.
Solemaini was awarded the Order of Zulfaqar from the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, making him the first Iranian military official to receive the order following the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported on Monday.
According to “Radio Farda” (“Tomorrow” in Farsi) the Persian language broadcaster of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Order of Zulfiqar was coined in 1921 and was given to ten army commanders under the Shah.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif congratulated Zarif, praising his efforts in the “fight against terrorism and extremism in the region, adding that such efforts have prepared the grounds for creating a strong and stable region free from violence and radicalization,” Iran’s Mehr News Agency said.
Soleimani is one of the most prominent and influential military figures in Iran, leading operations beyond Iran’s borders in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The Qud’s Force actions in Syria helped embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad retake control of his country when he looked close to defeat. Solemani has also helped Shiite militias defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and has helped Houthi rebels in Yemen in their war against a Saudi Arabian-led coalition.
As the Quds Force commander he has received the Order of Conquest (the second-highest military order after the Zulfaqar) three times for his military operations in the Middle East.
Solemani “is arguably the most powerful and unconstrained actor in the Middle East today,” retired four-star United States Army General Stanley McChrystal said in a January article in Foreign Policy.
“Suleimani is no longer simply a soldier; he is a calculating and practical strategist. Most ruthlessly and at the cost of all else, he has forged lasting relationships to bolster Iran’s position in the region,” McChrystal wrote.
But former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.(res) Gadi Eisenkot was crowned “as the man who humbled” the Soleimani in an interview with the New York Times
before his retirement from the military for the thousands of strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets across the region.
In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mocked the Iranian general telling him to examine “the state of Iranian bases he is trying to establish in Syria” instead of “interfering in the [Israeli] elections” following a report in a Kuwaiti paper that he told Iranian leaders that strikes deep inside Israeli territory could bring down Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.
In July he made headlines after he went after US President Donald Trump, warning if the US were to begin a war with Tehran, it would be Iran that would finish it
“Gambler Trump! I alone will stand against you. We, the Iranian nation, have gone through tough events. You (may) begin a war, but it is us who will end it. Go ask your predecessors (about it). So stop threatening … us. We are ready to stand against you,” Soleimani was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim in the central city of Hamedan.
"We are near you, where you can't even imagine ... Come. We are ready,” he said. “As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump’s threats. If he wants to use the language of threat, he should talk to me, not to the president (Hassan Rouhani).”
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