The death of Qassem Soleimani, one of the most important military leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,who designed and executed the spread of Iranian power across West Asia, is a blow to the regime. For over two decades, he commanded the Qods Force, the external security and intelligence operations unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His assassination, by a U.S. drone outside Baghdad airport on January 3, did not only point to the Islamic regime’s inability to protect the life of a top General but also left a hole in Iran’s credible deterrence. But a bigger question is this: do these military setbacks weaken the regime? What appears to be happening is just the contrary.
Till a few weeks ago, the regime was fighting to quell widespread dissent and protests. Economic hardships, largely because of crippling American sanctions along with the oppressive policies of the government, had triggered mass rallies across the country in early December, which were put down brutally. Hundreds were feared killed by the security personnel and thousands arrested.