How Iran’s Soleimani became a US target

On January 3rd, the United States launched
a drone strike near the Baghdad International airport in Iraq. It killed several Iraqi and Iranian military
officials, including Iran’s top commander named Qassem Soleimani. Moments later, Iran’s Supreme leader declared
Soleimani a martyr and threatened “severe revenge” against the US. Over the next few days, hundreds of thousands of Iranians came out to mourn Soleimani’s death. But Iran wasn’t the only place where people
took to the streets… There were demonstrations in Iraq. Syria. Lebanon. And Yemen. These are some of the countries where Soleimani
commanded a network of powerful militias; which gave him and Iran extraordinary influence
across the region. This network made him one of the most important
people in Iran. It’s also what got him killed. So how did Soleimani expand Iran’s influence? And what happens to these militias after his death? It all began with Iran’s Islamic revolution. In 1979, a cleric named Ayatollah Khomeini
led a popular movement that toppled Iran’s monarch and established the Islamic Republic
of Iran. This new regime wanted to export their revolution
and that threatened countries all over the Middle East. Iran was also the first Shia government that
billed itself as the preeminent leader of the Muslim world. That especially threatened Iran’s sunni-dominated
neighbors The first one to act was Iraq. In 1980, dictator Saddam Hussein sent his
army to invade Iran. Other countries that felt threatened by Iran supported him. The US sent some weapons to Iran, but mainly supported Iraq throughout the war, hoping to keep Iran’s ambitions in check. The war carried on for 8 years and nearly
a million died. During that time, Iran was devastated and
surrounded by enemies. So, it devised a strategy to spread its ideology
and fight its enemies covertly at the same time. But first it needed a security force to find
groups to partner with outside of Iran’s borders. So in the 80s, it put together an elite unit
of soldiers and spies, called the Quds Force. They became a part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps, a branch of the military that answered directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Next, it needed an opportunity to unleash
this force … and it found one in Lebanon. In the 1970s a civil war was raging in Lebanon. The US had sent troops as peacekeepers but
violence was spilling over into Israel. So in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Several Lebanese militias fought back. Some of these militias were led by Shia clerics,
who had ideological ties to Iran. So Iran sent forces, millions of dollars,
and tons of weapons to back their fight. They eventually merged into one powerful Shia militia called Hezbollah. They attacked Israeli soldiers in Lebanon
and launched rockets over the border into Israel. Hezbollah even bombed the US embassy and barracks
killing 304 people. Eventually, Hezbollah succeeded. The US troops left Lebanon in 1984 and Israel
pulled out in 2000. Iran’s dual strategy had worked. It turned Hezbollah into a reliable proxy
that could fight Israel and even the US on its behalf, without inciting conflict on
its own borders. Iran had also found an effective way to export its ideology in Lebanon. So Iran’s Quds Force started supporting
proxy militias in Palestine and Iraq. As it built the foundation for a network,
a charismatic soldier worked his way up the ranks… In 1998, Qassem Soleimani took command of
the Quds Force and within a few years he had an opportunity to firmly establish Iran’s
influence in Iraq. In 2003, the US invaded and toppled Saddam
Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime. This created a power vacuum in Iraq which
was quickly filled by Shias. Solemani used this opportunity to continue
to back Shia militias here; growing his network into a powerful force that fought against
the US and other Iraqis. It became one of the most violent periods
in Iraq’s troubled history. Thousands of civilians died, many at the hands
of Soleimani’s Iraqi militias. But eventually, a Shia-dominated government
took control of Iraq. Soleimani had managed to solidify Iran’s
influence in Iraq when another opportunity arose, this time, in Syria. in Syria
In 2011, protests in Syria turned into a civil war, which threatened to overthrow dictator
Bashar al-Assad. Suleimani orchestrated a network of proxies
to work together to defend Assad. He called in Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon,
Shia-militias from Iraq, and even soldiers from Iran. He also created two new militias with Afghan
and Pakistani fighters. All these groups fought alongside the Syrian
Army to keep Assad in power. This intensified a war that eventually killed
more than 500,000 people, mostly civilians and displaced more than 11 million. But Assad survived. Soleimani was successfully exploiting conflicts
to advance Iran’s interests across the region. And it was making him a very popular figure in Iran. He became arguably the second most important
person in the country. More conflicts gave Iran more opportunities. When ISIS sparked another war in Iraq, Suleimani
again called on his network to defend Iraq and keep ISIS away from Iran. By now, he had unprecedented influence and
continued to command the Shia militias in Iraq directly even after they were officially
folded into Iraq’s military. When a civil war erupted in Yemen, Iran threw
its support behind a rebel group. Now instead of being surrounded by enemies,
Iran had them surrounded. Suleimani empowered a vast array of militias
across the Middle East… Many of them are excessively violent, and
have killed thousands. Many are designated terrorist organizations
by the US and EU. And many are corrupt. Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi shia militias,
for instance, are the targets of mass protests in those countries. And they’re putting down the protests with
more violence. But to Iran and its supporters, Suleimani’s
a hero. He helped build a web of militias that not
only keeps Iran’s enemies in check… But also provides a pipeline for the Islamic
ideology that Iran wanted to see in the far corners of the Middle East. It’s why Iran’s Supreme Leader immediately
called Soleimani a martyr and also declared that his efforts and path won’t be stopped
after his killing. Even though its commander is gone, the
network remains intact.

About the author


  1. Hey everyone, if you're looking for a deeper history of the Middle East, check out our previous videos on the region:
    This video about Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry
    We've also covered the US-Saudi relationship
    And almost 4 decades of war in Iraq

    Thanks for watching!

    – Sam

  2. Don't tell this story to your kids, bcoz later when they grow up and find what actually it is they might shame you..

  3. This explanation is suspiciously bad. This makes it seem like everyone in Iran loved Soleimani, when in reality only about 10% of the population supported him. "Mourning" him was mandatory

  4. U.S.: Gives weapons to both sides, fueling the civil wars to come.

    Soleimani: “I’m about to do what’s called a pro-gamer move.”

  5. Sorry to say this, I'm disappointed! You jumped right over how Iran became a Monarchy in the firat place and the pictures shown in Lebanon are of no relationship to Hizballah.

  6. The main reason Iran became so powerful is because of the US backed wars in the middle east.
    Their plans worked and now you see people in most middle eastern countries mourning Soleimani's death. The main reason that's true? He helped them when the US and Israel invaded their country.

  7. Here come the poli-sci drop outs that now have barista careers with their pessimistic US foreign policy reviews. Shut your ignorant mouths and put more foam in my macchiato

  8. You are simply lying….. You are not telling USA only want milking cow like Saudi Arabia all around the world and Iran is the only country in the Middle East stopping USA. Your job is to tell the truth…. not become the mouth peace of USA foreign policy..

  9. In iran people hate the regime but it was very surprising to me that unfortunately some of them supported supported Soleimani.

    Although after that the IRGC shot down the Ukrainian airplane(on purpose), people hate the regime more than ever.

  10. Please get your FACTS straight!!! It was 15 million between Iran and Iraq that attended this great General's funeral. This is not including Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine ….etc. This was a beloved and respected General!

  11. Quick question : So iran was first surrounded by enemies but manged to surround them. Does that mean that they can also invade Saudi Arabia if there was to happen a protest?

  12. The US Military presence in Iraq since 2003 cost the lives of 1 Million + innocent Iraqis!!! The least the US Government can do is respectfully leave the Embassy and whatever the people of Iraq demand….after all your ONLY a guest in their country.

    The US Government and its policies of being the Judge, Jury, Prosecutor, and Executioner will no longer be tolerated in the Middle East and Muslims of that region!!!!

  13. I think the main point you forgot to mention is that Iran is almost COMPLETELY surrounded by US military bases. How do you think the US would react if it was surrounded by Iranian military bases?!

  14. It's interesting how the prey became the hunter and that one normal soldier became the second most important man in Iran but the question I have is iran retaliated by destroying an Ukrainian plane but I have a question actullay more than one what happens if the Lebanese civil war never started what if the Arab spring that caused most of the civil wars by governments using vilonce what if Al these Civil wars never happened? But why doesn't the US and the sunni powers in the middle east invade Iran and after isis is fully gone? Vox please answer these questions my 10 year old brain and my dad can't stop thinking about these questions

  15. All I can say is
    , In the next few years, the truth will become clear
    And people like you will be ashamed of the tricks they've told to the world

  16. Instead of blaming USA or any other country… First look into urself… If Iran is Shiya whats wrong in it? Saddam Invaded Iran & other Sunni countries supported him… & u are blaming USA…. USA made money out of it… That's what their religion is money… But why u are corrupting ur religion by hating each other… If Middle Eastern country live together they could be powerhouse of the world… First learn to respect others… Always keep Ur country, peace & love above religion….

  17. All I'm gonna say is Iran had it coming and especially Soulemani! I'm not a Trump fan by any means but I give him credit for doing what Obama was weak to do, even with China. If only Europe would stand up alongside us to put China in it's place we'd be good and China would be under control with their silk road and trying to take over the South China Sea.

  18. Shame on u
    He is a heroo
    An angel who also supported christaian minoritys
    U shld also show that
    R u guyz are americas barking dogs?!

  19. All I hope for is that my country Iraq will not be a battlefield for them. I disgust iran and their deep control over Iraq and they just doing whatever they want illegally!

    The millions of dollars which they fund their militias are stolen from Iraq
    And soleimani death was a beginning to kick them out of Iraq

  20. So Mr. Browny Hair done a great job , I think this guy is the only creating trouble in middle East, if this video isn't baised

  21. I just love the production of VOX videos! Excellent work, the VFX, the motion, the narration, the illustrations, the tracklist…all perfect. Its like all the videos must meet a particular production standard, and they all do! Very nice

  22. Can you imagine the death of their icon soleimani devastated and mourn Iran. And now the death of their icon kobe Bryant devastate and mourn America now.

  23. I typically like Vox Atlas videos… this one is waaay slanted and under contextualized to give only one narrative, the US’s. I hope it’s a one-time miss

  24. As bad as vox tries to make suleimani and the militias look bad. They still aren't responsible for perhaps one of the greatest tragedies done by the so called most Democratic country in the world: the Iraq war.

  25. It feels like Trump wanted this video to come out. What a fail and shame. Funny you didn't mention that Israel was raiding Lebanon (backed by the USA) to take lands from the country, just like what happened with Palestine. All in the name of "religion". Someone tell Israel their "promised" land has buried many Arabs beneath it.

  26. Someone's terrorist is someone's freedom fighter.. difference between people builds the weapon industry in western world.. purchase oil and sells weapons..

  27. Without USA, Iran and its Solaymani would never enter Iraq. Iran fought Saddam for 8 years it couldn't defeat him then USA came and did the job, USA gave Iraq to Iran. FACT

  28. The very fact that you said "It all began with IRAN's 1979 revolution immediately disqualifies you from everything. Why not start with the CIA backed coup of 1953 that Toppled the Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh!!!!1

  29. this is one side of the story.your side of that story , im from iran, who create isis?? who boombed lebenan? who kiled childs in yeman an palestine? why israeil trained isis force? qasem soleymani is hero, who is terorrist??soleymani(isis enemy) or usa(isis fonder and supporter)???

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