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January 12, 2020 No.
8488

Russia's Officials And Media Commentators React To The Killing Of Soleimani – Part II

On January 3, the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the special-task Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed by the US military, in an airstrike on Baghdad airport.[1]

On January 6, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya explained that Russia and China blocked the statement of the UN Security Council condemning the attack against the US Embassy in Iraq, because it did not take into account the subsequent US air strike near the Bagdad airport, which resulted in killing of Soleimani[2]

Below is an overview of Russian official and media reactions to the killing of Soleimani:


(Source: Topwar.ru)

Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova: The US Attempts To Promote Their UN Security Council Draft Statement Turned Into A Search For Justifications For Their Unlawful And Violent Action

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on the killing of Soleimani, in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Question: “On January 2, 2020, the US delegation at the UN Security Council circulated the Security Council’s draft statement for the press denouncing the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad on December 31. Iran was peremptorily branded as the organizer of this attack. How would you comment on this document?”

Zakharova: “The Russian Federation invariably and consistently upholds the principle of inviolability and security of diplomatic missions. We were ready to work on the US draft this time as well.

“But a few hours later, the US military delivered a strike at Baghdad’s civilian airport, which killed several people, including Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commander of its Quds Force. True to its anti-Iran policy, Washington, without offering any proof, has accused Tehran of masterminding the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and used an extrajudicial method to punish the Iranian general.

“Against this background, the US attempts, in subsequent days, to promote their UN Security Council draft statement turned into a search for justifications for their unlawful and violent action. In this specific case, the UN Security Council’s approval of the proposed statement would have amounted to a display of disregard for the use of force in violation of the UN Charter and for the principle of respect on the part of all countries for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

(Mid.ru, January 9, 2020)

Topwar.ru: Soleimani Should Not Be Considered A ‘Friend’ Of Russia; He Was Only A True Patriot Of His Country – Iran; For Moscow, A War Between Iran And The US Is Extremely Unprofitable

Commenting on the killing of General Soleimani, the Russian media outlet Topwar.ru wrote:

“In our country [Russia], the name of Qassem Soleimani became widely known after the start of Syrian war. It is said that it was General Soleimani, who was able to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops to Syria. Be that as it may, but when the pro-Turkish militants shot down a Russian plane on November 24, 2015, it was General Soleimani who personally led the search and rescue operation, as a result of which the Russian pilot Konstantin Murakhtin was saved.

“Of course, on this basis alone, Qassem Soleimani should not be counted a ‘friend’ of Russia. Soleimani was only a true patriot of his country – Iran…

“For Moscow, the beginning of an open armed conflict between Iran and the United States or American allies is extremely unprofitable. Therefore, it is an easy assumption that the Russian side will begin to provide enhanced assistance to Tehran in order to increase the latter's defense capability in the event of further aggressive actions by the United States…

“There is also an alternative point of view. General Qassem Soleimani was considered in the Iranian leadership as one of the most consistent opponents of any reconciliation with the United States. An ideological revolutionary, he genuinely  hated the ‘Great Satan,’ as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called the US at one time, and did not intend to put up with the West.

“Now, according to an alternative forecast, the main opponent of the negotiation process has left this mortal coil, which means that just the negotiation vector can triumph in Iran’s foreign policy…”

(Topwar.ru, January 6, 2020)

Russian Expert Safarov: Soleimani Is A Legendary, Larger-Than-Life Person, Who Is Absolutely Irreplaceable; Trump ‘Will Be Scared For The Rest Of His Life’

Rajab Safarov, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Iran, characterized Soleimani as a legendary, larger-than-life person, who is absolutely irreplaceable. The political expert sees the incident as “the most glaring act of international terrorism by the United States.”

“There is no other person of this magnitude among Iran's military leadership. Soleimani was a very well-read person and a philosopher. His humanitarian views were especially attractive. You cannot call him a terrorist. He was a true peacemaker on a global scale,” Safarov told the newspaper Vzglyad.

Safarov believes that from now on the general will be seen as the most important martyr in Iran, he will be raised to the rank of a modern prophet, because he was “the most remarkable and authoritative person not only in Iran, but also in other Middle Eastern countries with pro-Iranian sentiments.”

“Soleimani served as a balance of sorts in the Middle East. He always tried to prevent more bloodshed,” the expert said.

Rajab Safarov is convinced that from now on, Trump “will be terrified for the rest of his life,” because by ordering the elimination of Soleimani “he raised America to the rank of an irreconcilable enemy of the Iranian people and demonstrated that for the U.S. no rules of international law exist.”

“I know that dozens of groups are prepared to take personal revenge on Mr. Trump. They will not rest until they reach their goal. America is asleep now, and Trump feels like a hero because he eliminated the most famous General in the Middle East. But this bravado will end in a matter of hours or maximum days,” Safarov asserted.

In Safarov’s words, not only the regional security is in serious doubt now, but the world security as well. “Whereas only a part of Iran's population used to look upon the U.S. with distrust and hatred, from now on it is a nationwide contempt. Now the Iranian government is facing the problem of containing this people's tsunami that can cause a chaotic reaction in all directions and render the process uncontrollable,” Safarov warned.

(Vz.ru, January 3, 2020)

Russian Expert Kortunov: Trump Is Not Looking For A Military Conflict With Iran; War Goes Against Trump’s Personal Philosophy; Iran Is Also Not Interested In A Major War

Andrey Kortunov, the director of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), characterized Soleimani as a rare person and a major organizer. He was the leading conservative figure in the Iranian elite. Soleimani’s elimination is a dramatic way to send a signal to everyone: to the Democrats who accused Trump of inaction, and to the American partners in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, to the effect that "we did not forget you." This is a signal to Iran that any escalation by Tehran, especially if American lives are threatened, as it happened the other day in Baghdad, will be met with a decisive response. And it is also a signal to Iraqis that there is hope for somewhat reducing Iranian influence in Iraq.

Kortunov is convinced that Trump is not looking for a military conflict with Iran, as war “goes against his personal philosophy...Getting involved in a serious war with Iran on the eve of the presidential election is a gift to the Democrats. A war like this is never short and major losses are inevitable. No one can count on an easy victory,” Kortunov said.

The political scientist suggested that the president’s decision to eliminate Soleimani was influenced by the show of force attributed by the West to Iran. This is, first of all, a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman as well as the Houthis' attacks on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia. “Iran, of course, denies any involvement. Russia does not confirm this either, but in the West there is a firm belief that either the Iranians did that themselves, or it was carried out by pro-Iranian forces, so Tehran bears responsibility for these incidents. And Trump's reaction to all this was purely political. Condemnations were issued, sanctions against Iran were strengthened, but the opposition kept berating the president for his unwillingness to fight back. Trump was also criticized by the conservative Gulf monarchies who kept wondering how relevant were the security guarantees that the U.S. was offering them. That is to say, Trump had to show toughness,” Kortunov believes.

He acknowledges that Iran has many tools at its disposal to respond to the killing of Soleimani, but "most of them are unlikely to reach the United States." "At the same time, American allies are, of course, reachable from Yemen, so Saudi Arabia and UAE can be attacked from there. Likewise, Israel can be attacked from southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hizbullah. American military personnel remaining in Syria and Iraq could come under attack as well. So there may be some ‘surprises.’ But Iran is not interested in a major war and neither is Trump. So in any case, no serious escalation should be expected," Andrey Kortunov concluded.

(Vz.ru, January 3, 2020)

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8467, Russia’s Officials And Media Commentators React To The Killing Of Soleimani, January 6, 2020.

[2] Tass.com, January 6, 2020.