On January 3, Iran marked the second anniversary of the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force, with official speeches, commemorative rallies, major media coverage, and inflammatory threats. Soleimani, who was considered a military hero for directing Iranian military operations across the Middle East, was killed in a U.S. drone strike shortly after he arrived in Baghdad to meet Iraqi allies in early 2020.
At one commemoration, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Soleimani for “having a thorough understanding of the enemy and its resources and equipment.” The general “would enter the field of battle without a shred of fear and with complete power and acumen, and he would do amazing things,” he told a gathering of senior military leaders and Soleimani’s family.
But, he warned, Soleimani was “more dangerous” as an assassinated “martyr” than as a military leader. “Today in our region, Soleimani is a symbol of hope, self-confidence and bravery and a manifestation of resistance and victory,” Khamenei said.
In a more ominous threat, President Ebrahim Raisi, the new hardline leader and former judiciary chief, called for former President Donald Trump to be tried under Islamic law for ordering Soleimani’s assassination. “The aggressor, murderer and main culprit – the then-president of the United States – must be tried and judged under the law of retribution, and God's ruling must be carried out against him,” Raisi said at Tehran commemoration. “If not, I’m telling all American leaders, don’t doubt that the hand of revenge will come out of the sleeves of ummah (Islamic nation).”
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Iranian ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the United States of violating international law. The U.N. Security Council “must live up to its Charter-based responsibilities and hold the United States and the Israeli regime to account for planning, supporting and committing that terrorist act.”
Newspapers from across the political spectrum memorialized Soleimani on their front pages on January 3. Vatan-e Emrooz, a conservative daily, published a full-page portrait of Soleimani with the headline “Immortal.” Etemad, a reformist newspaper, called Soleimani the “son of the Imam (Khamenei).” Some papers, including Shargh, a reformist daily, published special sections about the general.
The United States sanctioned Soleimani in 2007 ties to Iran’s proliferation programs. In 2011, he was twice sanctioned—once for ties to human rights abuses in Syria and again for ties to assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
To mark the anniversary, pro-Iranian hackers launched a cyber attack on The Jerusalem Post website. The newspaper’s homepage was replaced with a graphic of a fist with a red ring – similar to the one worn by Soleimani – firing at a model of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility. The picture included a message in English and Hebrew: “We are close to you where you do not think about it.” The Twitter account of Maariv newspaper, a sister publication, was also hacked and briefly ran the same graphic.
Iran has previously mentioned targeting Dimona. For a military exercise in December 2021, Iran built a model of the facility and drilled on firing ballistic missiles at it.
The following are remarks by Iranian and pro-Iran leaders on the anniversary of Soleimani’s death.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
In a speech to Soleimani’s family and government and military officials on Jan. 1, 2022: “Tens of millions of Iranians attending General Soleimani’s funeral shows he was and is the most popular figure in the nation. Also, the increasing influence of his name in the world of Islam proves dear Soleimani has been one of the most popular figures in the world of Islam too.”
“The dear general of the Iranian nation endured all the hardships on the path of his ideals with all his heart and soul. He was meticulously careful about his duty toward the Iranian nation and the Islamic nation throughout his entire lifetime.”
“Haj Qassem proved that one can be the most caring about his nation and the Islamic nation at the same time.”
“The heroic General of the Iranian nation enjoyed an envious level of courage and bravery and at the same time rationality in his endless activities. Having a thorough understanding of the enemy and its resources and equipment, he would enter the field of battle without a shred of fear and with complete power and acumen, and he would do amazing things.”
“Today in our region, Soleimani is a symbol of hope, self-confidence and bravery and a manifestation of resistance and victory. As some people have correctly pointed out, ‘Martyr’ Soleimani is more dangerous than ‘General’ Soleimani for his enemies.”
“The enemies used to think that by martyring Soleimani, Abu Mahdi and their comrades, everything would be over. But today, thanks to the blessings from that invaluable, innocent blood, the U.S. has fled from Afghanistan. In Iraq, it was forced to pretend that it had intended to withdraw its forces and to announce an advisory role without any military presence. Of course, the Iraqi brothers should pursue this matter vigilantly. In Yemen, the Resistance force is advancing. In Syria, the enemy is faced with a dead end and has no hope for the future. In general, the Resistance and anti-imperialist movement in the region is moving forward in a stronger, more dynamic, more hopeful way than two years ago.”
“While that dear martyr behaved very kindly toward the families of martyrs, he was also so determined and severe when facing domestic and foreign malicious, corrupt individuals that even the news of his presence in a certain area would destroy the enemy’s morale.”
“His assassins – including Trump and the like – will be forgotten in history and disappear in history’s trash can, but of course after having received retribution in this world for the crime they committed.”
President Ebrahim Raisi
In a speech on Jan. 3, 2022: “Haj Qassem deeply believed that the United States cannot do a damn thing against us. He deeply believed that excuses such as “it is not possible," "can we?", “there are obstacles'' and “we must somehow compromise” were not in Haj Qassem's logic.”
“Martyr Soleimani not just an individual, but a doctrine, and this doctrine is not destroyed with by terror or missile. The doctrine stays, the doctrine survives.”
“Martyr Soleimani was a great commander and strategist who did not create a dichotomy between the field and diplomacy. He was a powerful diplomat and a field diplomat who excelled in both fields.”
“He was a revolutionary commander and a supra-factional commander whose task was to save Islam and Muslims, to ward off evil, corruption and oppression.”
“Martyr Soleimani's goal was to defend Sunni, Shiite, Palestinian, Lebanese, Yemeni, Yezidi, Christian and all religious people in the Abrahamic religions, so his vision was how to remove the enemy from the region and how to liberate the region.”
“The enemy was worried about the Hezbollah front in Lebanon, but several Hezbollah factions were created and became the Hezbollah and Resistance Front in the region, and the international resistance movement.”
“Haj Qassem Soleimani was the official guest of the Iraqi Prime Minister. You both broke the sovereignty of Iraq and assassinated a nation, not a single person.”
“What should be done in this horrible crime that was very hard and expensive for the whole Islamic Ummah? The aggressor and murderer and the main criminal, who is the then President of the United States must be brought to justice, retribution must be carried out.”
“If the mechanism for a fair trial of Mr. Trump, Pompeo and other criminals is provided, they will be punished for their shameful acts in a fair trial for committing this horrific crime. If not, I tell all American statesmen that do not doubt that revenge will come.”
General Hossein Salami, Commander of the Revolutionary Guards
In remarks on Jan. 1, 2022: “With that crime, the enemy was trying to extinguish the light of the Resistance. But the miracle that was brought about due to the blood of these glorious martyrs, caused the Resistance to advance and the enemy to be pushed back in all fronts of confrontation.”
During a ceremony in the holy city of Qom on Dec. 30, 2021: “We are not afraid of the enemy because we tower over them. They have tested us in the field, so we are not worried about the military power of the enemy.”
“The more we look into the depths of the enemy, the more fatigue and helplessness we see in them, and we are sure that this process will continue.”
“The enemy, by assassinating Martyr Soleimani, sought to undermine the resistance front, but contrary to all of its equations and thanks to the blood of this martyr, the resistance has become stronger and more powerful than ever.”
“Just look at the area of American influence and that of the [Islamic] Revolution compared to the past.”
“Jihad in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen means building a great Islamic geography. If this strength and power is not formed, the enemy will dominate us. Without Islamic rule and military power, it is impossible to dominate the enemy and carry out divine commands.”
Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force
In remarks on Dec. 31, 2021: “We will not allow the killers of Hajj Qassem (Soleimani) to rest, the revenge continues.”
“The axis of resistance, those who love and seek blood vengeance for General Soleimani, will continue this path, and if the Americans want to limit their expenses, they must themselves pack up and leave the region.”
“The emptiness [bluffing] of the U.S. was discovered by all. The Hollywood-like power of the United States was discovered by all. Iran and Iranians and the chants of revenge by the people that night [of the killing] started the downfall of the terrorist regime of the U.S. and the events that occurred after it, like the disgraced exit from Afghanistan and the events in Iraq and Syria and other places where it is beginning—the beginning of the end of America.
U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi
In a letter to the president of the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 3, 2022:
Concurrent with the second anniversary of the horrific assassination of Martyr Major General Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – an official branch of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and his companions, on 3 January 2020 at Baghdad International Airport, at the direct order of the then President of the United States, I would like to bring to your attention the recent information concerning the involvement of the Israeli regime in this heinous terrorist act.
In a recent interview, the former military intelligence chief of the Israeli regime admitted the involvement of the Israeli regime in the premeditated assassination of Martyr Soleimani, stating that the “Israeli intelligence played a part” in that assassination, and described it as “an achievement” and one of the two significant and important assassinations during his term.
As I have on numerous occasions underlined, including in my letters dated 3 January 2020 (S/2020/13), 7 January 2020 (S/2020/16) and 29 January 2020 (S/2020/81) addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, this internationally wrongful criminal act was a grave breach of the obligations of the United States under international law, thus entails its international responsibility.
This criminal act also entails the criminal responsibility of all those who had aided, abetted or otherwise assisted and supported, by any means, directly or indirectly, the planning or perpetration of this terrorist act, the clear example of which is the supportive role and the involvement of the Israeli regime in it.
Martyr Soleimani played a significant role in combatting international terrorism and accordingly was rightfully given the title of the Hero of the Fight against Terrorism and the General of Peace, and therefore his cowardly assassination was a big gift and service to Daesh and other Security Council designated terrorist groups in the region who welcomed his assassination, calling it “an act of divine intervention that benefitted” them.
Given the dire implications of this terrorist act on international peace and security, the Security Council must live up to its Charter-based responsibilities and hold the United States and the Israeli regime to account for planning, supporting and committing that terrorist act.
In line with our rights and obligations under international law, the Iranian armed forces are determined to vigorously continue Martyr Soleimani’s path in actively assisting regional nations and governments, upon their requests, to combat foreign-backed terrorist groups in the region until they are uprooted completely.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Statement on Dec. 31, 2021: On the eve of the second anniversary of the martyrdom of the valiant General of Islam, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran commemorates this immortal martyr who spent his blessed life in sincere service to Iran, Islam and peace and security.
Martyr General Soleimani invariably played a role in line with the principled policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran to help establish peace and stability at the regional and international levels, and adopted various measures and devoted a great deal of efforts to combat international terrorism and growing terrorist outfits across the region.
For this reason, he has rightly and proudly been titled the Hero of the Fight against Terrorism and the General of Peace. Despite this role and position, the US government, through applying double standards and false claims like that of countering terrorism, in a criminal act that violates the rules and principles of international law, planned and carried out a terrorist attack against Martyr General Soleimani as one of the highest-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the territory of Iraq as the host country.
The move by then US officials to publicly assassinate the International Counter Terrorism Hero is in itself a message of support for terrorist groups that explicitly expose the lies of counter-terrorism claimants.
The martyrdom of General Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes and their great companions, not only did not diminish the capacity of the Axis of Resistance, but on the one hand imbued the domestic environment of Iran with national cohesion and unity, and on the other hand further highlighted the strategy and discourse of the Resistance.
In response to this assassination, the prompt and effective action of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran in slapping the American troops stationed at the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq in the face, along with the spiritual effects of the blood of Iranian and Iraqi martyrs, upset the equations and brought about the failure of US regional strategy. The US fleeing from Afghanistan, the beginning of the process of withdrawal from Iraq and the change in the strategy of the US military presence in the geostrategic region of Persian Gulf showcase a small part of such impacts and consequences.
Undoubtedly, the criminal act of the United States in martyring general Soleimani is a clear manifestation of a "terrorist attack" that was orchestrated and carried out in an organized manner by the then US government for which the White House is now responsible.
According to international and legal standards, the US government bears "definitive international responsibility" for this crime. In this context, all the agents, instigators, contributors and perpetrators of this terrorist crime are responsible. Therefore, in cooperation with other agencies and the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted a number of measures from the very beginning based on the legal principle of "combating the impunity of criminals" to hold such individuals and entities accountable before the courts and will continue on this path until the final result is achieved.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken numerous measures with the aim of following up the issue at all domestic, bilateral, regional and international levels, the reports of which have been presented to the great Nation of Iran at various points to the extent possible. This pursuit of this path will continue vigorously and comprehensively.
These measures have been taken in the political, legal, international and public diplomacy dimensions. In this regard, in the foreign and international arena, special efforts were made to prevent the distortion of truth by the United States and its manipulation of the situation. The moral, political, and legal condemnation expressed towards the US government on an international level for committing this crime has been one of outcomes of such efforts.
In following up this issue, it is necessary to point to the continuation of endeavors by the Joint Judicial Committee between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always taken effective and active measures to establish peace and stability in the region. Now, according to the approaches of the 13th government, which reaches out to the neighbors of the Islamic Republic of Iran for extensive and stable engagement and cooperation, the groundwork for the development and strengthening of relations among the countries of the region is laid more firmly than before.
The government and people of Iran consider themselves to be on the side of the governments and nations of the region and have not and will not spare any assistance to maintain territorial integrity and establish lasting stability and security, and development and prosperity among the countries of the region and the Islamic world.
In the end, together with all Iranians in the motherland and all over the world, we pay tribute to the lofty spirit of the General of Peace and Security, Haj Qassem Soleimani.
Garrett Nada, managing editor of The Iran Primer, assembled this report.