Last week I mentioned a name for you to remember. To Shia muslims in Iran he is now larger than life. They are even making movies about him. Major General Qasem Soleimani, the “shadow commander” of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quids forces, stepped into the light to protect the Shia of the Middle East. He runs Iran’s four proxy wars reporting directly to Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei. Soleimani has been very successful fighting ISIS across Iraq and Syria, even joining forces on the front lines during the fighting. Since President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed stiff sanctions against Iran, Soleimani’s forces have increased activity across the Middle East. Soleimani has now included Bahrain in the list of countries Iran wishes to destabilize, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen as the other four.
Inclusion of Bahrain should alarm you. The Sunni government of Bahrain has been one of our closest allies in the Middle East. US Air Force, Navy, and Royal Air Force aircraft operated from Manama and Sheik Isa airfields during both wars in Iraq. The State Department declared the Al-Ashtar Brigade, a militant group in Bahrain, a terrorist organization. On August 13, the US State Department listed one of AAB’s leaders, Qassim Abdullah Ali Ahmed, also known as Qassim al-Muamen, as a specially designated global terrorist, subjecting him to wide-ranging sanctions. Al-Muamen’s group received direct support from Iran for bombing Bahrain’s oil pipeline and assassinating government leaders.
Iranian backed militant group assassinating leaders in Bahrain? The US has military leaders in Bahrain. On Saturday, Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US Fifth Fleet, was found dead in his home in Bahrain. Current reports state there does not seem to be foul play. But we are talking about the Middle East and madness Iran has created.
The so what of all this is I’ve wondered today if Soleimani ran his own version of Operation Vengeance, the intercept of the two Betty bombers carrying Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto near the island of Bougainville. Khamenei said he would implement the Mother of all Battles against the US. Iran would target US military personnel with no regrets, and have done so in the past. I sincerely hope I’m wrong… normally I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but with all the things Iran’s Khamenei has been saying against the US and the majority of the population in Bahrain being Shia, a vengeance mission against a US military leader is right up Qasem Soleimani’s alley. Hunting ISIS leadership has become one of his strengths in the Al-Quids forces fight against ISIS.
We’ll wait and see what the official report says but earlier today I read two articles saying they don’t believe what is being said about the Vice Admiral’s death. Iran is exerting their influence through the Middle East, and the commander of their version of CIA and Special Operations Forces is named Qasem Soleimani. Remember that name.
About the author, Mark Hasara
Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.