“As a former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former CIA director, retired Gen. David Petraeus is keenly familiar with Qassem Soleimani, the powerful chief of Iran’s Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad Friday morning,” Foreign Policy magazine published an interview on 3 January 2019 with the former U.S. commander and CIA director General David Petraeus.
After months of a muted U.S. response to Tehran’s repeated lashing out—the downing of a U.S. military drone, a devastating attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, and more—Suleimani’s killing was designed to send a pointed message to the regime that the United States will not tolerate continued provocation, he said.
Petraeus spoke to Foreign Policy while he called the killing of Soleimani: “More significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action. It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi. Suleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon.
“He is responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria. So his death is of enormous significance,” Petraeus said to Foreign Policy.
General Petraeus clarified that the killing of Soleimani was a “defensive action”
Gen. Petraeus, who came to know the Quds Force commander’s influence when he served in Iraq, once described General Suleimani as “a truly evil figure” in a letter to then defense secretary Robert M. Gates. In another letter, he acknowledged the influence General Suleimani had brought to bear in Iraq. “The most sobering surprise of the week was probably the extent of direct Iranian involvement in Iraqi political intrigue,” General Petraeus wrote in an April 2008 letter to Mr. Gates. (The New York Times, 2 October 2012)
The only way to understand Qasem Soleimani’s legacy is to trace the trail of bloodshed he left in his wake across the Middle East. As head of the Quds Force, Soleimani personally oversaw an international multi-billion-dollar terrorist proxy network, and he did so with total impunity. In a famous incident in 2008, General David Petraeus, then commander of the United States Central Command, was handed a phone by then Iraqi President Jalal Talabani with a text message from Soleimani.
It read “Dear General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qasem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”
Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s proxy wars in the Middle East. He ignored calls to enter politics but became as powerful, if not more, than its civilian leadership.
Gen. Odierno speech about Soleimani
In an Interview with Fox News published in 2015 former US Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno spoke about Soleimani: “Qassim Soleimani is the one who has been exporting malign[ant] activities throughout the Middle East for some time now,” Odierno told Fox News in August 2015. “He’s absolutely responsible for killing many Americans. In fact, I would say the last two years I was there the majority of our casualties came from his surrogates, not Sunni or Al Qaeda.”