Iranian Leaders Commemorate Third Anniversary Of Qassem Soleimani’s Death

Iranian Leaders Commemorate Third Anniversary Of Qassem Soleimani’s Death

Iranian Leaders Commemorate Third Anniversary Of Qassem Soleimani’s Death

Throughout the week, the Iranian establishment marked the third anniversary of the U.S. strike which killed the Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Qassem Soleimani on January 3, 2020. On January 1, Iran’s supreme leader hosted members of Soleimani’s family including his daughter Zeinab. UANI believes Reza Safieddine, Zeinab’s husband and the son of the head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Hashem Safieddine, may have been in attendance. Reza has been responsible for arms trafficking between Tehran and Beirut, and few photographs exist of him. His father Hashem was also in Tehran for the Soleimani anniversary commemorations.  

At the meeting with Khamenei pointedly noted “Praise God, the void due to the absence of the General [Soleimani] has been filled in many instances.” That does not necessarily mean all instances and could have been a signal of his successor Esmail Ghaani’s shortcomings in managing and manipulating Iran’s proxies and partners. Khamenei added that “by strengthening the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of the Resistance, the General preserved, equipped, and revived this eternal, growing phenomenon against the Zionist regime, the influence of the U.S., and against other arrogant countries.”  

In separate remarks, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi warned “we have not forgotten and will not forget the blood of martyr Soleimani and let them know that revenge for the blood of martyr Soleimani is certain.” Ghaani himself insisted that “continuing the path of Martyr Soleimani is revenge for his blood;” that revenge against the perpetrators has started; and that they “no longer have peace in their homes.” Threats to the U.S. homeland have been a consistent theme in Ghaani’s warnings in consecutive Soleimani anniversary ceremonies.  


Lebanon Charges Seven Over Irish Peacekeeper Killing 

Lebanon’s military tribunal has charged seven suspects for participating in an attack last month that killed a United Nations peacekeeper when the convoy that was carrying him came under attack, according to several officials. Irish Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed, and three other peacekeepers were wounded on December 14 when a group of armed men shot at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle near the village of al-Aqbiya in southern Lebanon, a center of support for Hezbollah, which has denied any role in the killing.

In late December, the Lebanese military arrested a suspect “in cooperation with Hezbollah,” according to the Iran-backed Shia group, which said the man was not one of its members. The arrested man and six other fugitives were charged in the attack, according to a judicial official familiar with the investigation, a legal official following the case, and a military official. All spoke to news agencies on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The officials said a search was under way for the other six suspects and that authorities were trying to determine whether they had left the country.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah Delivers Speech On Third Anniversary Of Soleimani’s Death 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech this Tuesday, marking the third anniversary of the death of former IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and former Popular Mobilization Forces Deputy Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. 

Nasrallah began his speech by dispelling rumors that had been circulating about his deteriorating health, including false reports that claimed the Hezbollah chieftain had suffered a stroke. Clearly, he had not – and stated that he had a “trachea allergy” for the past 30 years, and flareups tended to affect his ability to make his routine televised speeches. Such reports of Nasrallah’s catastrophic health failures have become routine, and yet continue to spread despite repeatedly proving to be false.

Nasrallah devoted much of his speech to eulogizing and building up the martyr mythology of Soleimani and Muhandis, alleging that they had led the Resistance Axis’ successful efforts to repel the American plan to dominate the region – spearheaded by the “American military barracks in the region,” – and, as has become routine, recounted several plans where this alleged plot had been supposedly foiled.

Nasrallah also addressed the new government in Israel, saying its extremism heralded the demise of the Jewish state. He issued a threat against Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, saying his recent visit to the Temple Mount threatened to “detonate the region.”

Regarding domestic matters, Nasrallah said Hezbollah was sticking to its course regarding the Lebanese presidency. He noted that no one should await a Saudi-Iranian deal to end the deadlock over the election of a new president, and that the matter would only be resolved domestically. Relatedly, Hezbollah mouthpieces like Al-Akhbar have revived old conspiracy theories that the Lebanese presidential deadlock owes to U.S. efforts, with Washington seeking to exploit the vacancy to blame Hezbollah.

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Promises President Friendly To Hezbollah

A Hezbollah delegation visited the seat of Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarchate this week, and held a meeting with Church officials, including Patriarch Bichara al-Rahi, that was “very cordial and excellent,” regarding Lebanon’s presidential election deadlock. According to pro-Hezbollah outlet Al-Akhbar, the Maronite Patriarch – held out by some as an active opponent of Hezbollah’s creeping domination of Lebanon – told his interlocutors from the group that he opposed the election of a president who would “stab Hezbollah in the back.” Al-Rahi also told the Hezbollah delegation that he had no opposition to the election of the group’s preferred candidate, Sleiman Frangieh, noting that he comes from “an honorable, historic, and well-known family.”

Less partisan outlets, like Al-Joumhouria, reported on the meeting as well – but they neither confirmed nor denied the occurrence of this exchange. The Maronite Patriarchate has also issued no statements denying the occurrence of the exchange. 

Israel And Palestinian Territories 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General: Soleimani Was A Strong Fighter, Palestine Was His First Priority 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala, who is headquartered in Beirut, eulogized fallen IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani on Thursday, saying the “Martyr Soleimani” was a powerful fighter, who had extensive relations with “all resistance forces in Palestine and abroad.”

Soleimani “has been transformed from a national symbol to an international one, and rendered the impossible possible,” Al-Nakhalah said, noting that “Palestine was the first concern of Martyr Qassem Soleimani, who believed in the unity of the Ummah and believed that Palestine and Al-Quds are the symbols of unity.”  

The PIJ Secretary-General affirmed that Soleimani “made a great effort to strengthen and develop the resistance until it reached its strongest stage and hit the enemy's capital…with missiles that he had sent to the resistance,” which al-Nakhala falsely gave as Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem.

Days before the third anniversary of Soleimani’s death, Al-Nakhalah mourned the late terrorist commander, saying: "Martyr Soleimani is truly the martyr of Al-Quds, and he truly deserves this title.” Al-Nakhala said, “Hajj Soleimani is always present, and he gave his soul for the liberation of Al-Quds.”

Relatedly, a memorial ceremony for Qassem Soleimani was held Wednesday in the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian leaders talked about his pivotal role in the Palestinian cause and confirmed that he was a spearhead in confronting the Israeli occupation.


Israeli Strike In Syria And Rocket Attack On U.S. Base 

Syrian air defenses were activated early on Monday in response to an Israeli strike on the Damascus area which killed two soldiers and halted airport service, according to reports from Syrian state news and the country's military. Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah militia targets south of Damascus, according to media outlets affiliated with Syrian opposition forces. The Syrian military said that the missiles had come from the direction of Lake Tiberias in Israel and struck Damascus International Airport at around 2:00 AM.  

According to Haaretz, two regional intelligence sources said the strikes had hit an outpost near the airport of Iran’s Quds Force and militias it backs. Their presence has spread in Syria in recent years. 

The Syrian army reported that the strike killed two soldiers and caused some material damage, adding that all flights to and from the airport were suspended. Syria’s Transportation Ministry later announced that flight service would resume at 9:00 AM.

Separately, the U.S. military announced on Wednesday that two rockets struck an American base—the Mission Support Site Conoco—without causing any human or material losses. Iran-backed militias have a history of attacking such bases and the timing of the strike, coming as Tehran marked the third anniversary of Soleimani’s death, was noteworthy. Another plausible motive for the strike could have been the Israeli strike in Syria on Monday, as Iran-backed militias have a history of retaliating against U.S. targets in response to Israeli strikes.