January 23, 2020 | Frontpage Magazine

The Death Spiral of the Islamic Republic

The hit on Soleimani was so well-organized, leading terrorists ran for the hills.
January 23, 2020 | Frontpage Magazine

The Death Spiral of the Islamic Republic

The hit on Soleimani was so well-organized, leading terrorists ran for the hills.

The elimination of Qassem Soleimani has produced surprising results. It turns out that the United States received intelligence on Soleimani’s movements from a variety of sources, some within his Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, others from Israel’s vaunted intelligence apparatus.

The operation against Soleimani and his ilk was so well-organized that leading terrorists in Iraq ran for the hills:

U.S. officials have intercepted chatter and received confirmation that terrorist leaders in Iraq have been fleeing the region and have gone into hiding fearing United States intelligence capabilities after the successful airstrike that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani.

Undoubtedly some of the terrorist leaders are cutting deals with U.S. intelligence, and the events of this weekend suggest that at least some of that information has made its way to Iraqi demonstrators. The anti-Iranian demonstrations continue, and the divisions within the regime are becoming ever more intense:

Far from a unifying national symbol as some supposed, Soleimani has become a deeply divisive figure within the Middle East region. Fractures over the late Commander also reveal deep-seated divisions within Iran and the failure of the Islamic Republic’s brand of culture and identity politics. Like Iran’s official identity, the country’s regional role and Soleimani’s image have left Iranians disunited. Internal unrest, decades of mismanagement and regional adventurism are revealing the limits of Islamic Republic’s Shiite-based rhetoric and its failure of combining that with a viable notion of nationhood.

Scores of IRGC officials have been arrested by their comrades. Most of the arrestees are said to be Soleimani loyalists, and there are reports of missing officials very far up in the Quds Force. According to the ongoing reports from the Free Iran Herald, carried by the Gateway Pundit,

A source inside IRGC tells me that since yesterday evening, 56 of IRGC commanders have been arrested by the IRGC’s intelligence organization. According to the source, knows as Haj Vahid, one of Soleimani’s most trusted in Iraq is missing since the strike on Soleimani.

Is Haj Vahid helping Soleimani’s enemies? And where is he?

Wherever he and his colleagues may be, the Iranian people, after the days of public celebration of the life of Soleimani, are not celebrating him anymore. It was one thing when he was viewed as untouchable, but quite a different matter once his vulnerability to U.S. Special Forces was exposed.

The removal of Soleimani et al from the battlefield undermines Iran’s plans for an expanded push against American and Israeli forces throughout the Middle East, and encourages the increasingly broad-based revolt against the Iranian regime. So it is that the Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese peoples are fighting against the mullahs and their agents. And once again, the killing of Soleimani gave hope to the people who are targeted by the brutal thugs of the Tehran regime.

Two careful observers of Iranian events—Banafsheh Zand and Harold Rhode–see the downfall of Soleimani as a crucial turning point in the downfall of the Islamic Republic, provided that Washington applies relentless pressure.

Both Zand and Rhode see the Soleimani strike as a potential turning point for Iran, but both insist that the Iranian protesters will need unwavering support from the Trump administration to continue building momentum. Rhode cautioned that the regime will try to stay in power at all costs and will, not simply bow to international economic and diplomatic pressure, however fierce.The same applies to Iraq and Lebanon.

“Soleimani was betrayed by fellow IRGC members. They are killing each other,” said Zand.

Rhode, who lived through the events of 1979, when the shah was overthrown, knows that the key to the future of Iran, and hence of the Meddle East, is the people’s perception of the durability of the regime:

“It is important that the Trump administration stay strong and not show Iran any weakness and respond to any aggression with overwhelming strength,” said Rhode, while noting that crippling international sanctions administered by the U.S. are taking a severe toll on the country as well as the stability of the Islamic regime.

“With all that is going on,” he said, “it is hard to imagine how much longer the regime could survive.”

Meanwhile, the Tehran regime will kill as many people as it possibly can, hoping to rattle President Trump and to drive its enemies into silence.

It’s a desperate strategy.

Dr. Michael Ledeen is freedom scholar at FDD, and is an internationally-renowned scholar on Iran, Iraq, terrorism, and international security, and a world-renowned Italianist and expert on fascism. Michael has served as a consultant to the National Security Council and the Departments of State and Defense, and as a special advisor to the Secretary of State. 


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Military and Political Power