IRGC chief: Avenging Lt. Gen. Soleimani’s assassination an aspiration, strategy
Avenging U.S. assassination of Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani is a strategy and aspiration, said the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
In an exclusive interview with khamenei.ir, Major General Hossein Salami added the assassination of Lieutenant General Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, not only failed to have any adverse impact on his path, but also warmed up Muslims’ hearts to the extent that the entire Muslim world has a burning desire to rise against the occupation of the arrogant powers.
He noted that Lieutenant General Soleimani was among the world’s most skilled, experienced, capable and tested military commanders, the likes of which are hard to find even throughout the history.
Lieutenant General Soleimani had a significant presence in national, regional and international arenas, the IRGC chief commander said.
He had an attractive character and was capable of connecting with people swiftly, Major General Salami added.
Commenting on Lieutenant General Soleimani’s fruitful presence and anti-occupation achievements in regional states, such as Lebanon and Iraq, Major General Salami said the great commander managed to help Muslims, for instance the Palestinians, to muster the courage to stand in the face of the arrogant powers, such as Israel.
The U.S. had already been implementing its strategies in any regional states to which Lieutenant General Soleimani was sent to carry out missions, he noted, adding the indefatigable commander would doom all U.S. strategies to failure.
Major General Salami stressed that the present circumstances show that “Martyr Soleimani” is more dangerous to the enemy than “Lieutenant General Soleimani”, saying the commander’s martyrdom sparked a revolution in Muslims’ hearts, following which one Qassem turned into one million Qassems.
Everybody is currently speaking of the revenge for the act of terror, he noted, emphasizing that taking revenge for Lieutenant General Soleimani’s assassination has currently become a strategy, wish, aspiration and a point of movement.
Lieutenant General Soleimani, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and their companions were assassinated in a U.S. drone strike, called as state terrorism by Iran, authorized by former U.S. president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020, according to Press TV.
Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that requires the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the U.S. in the country.
Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key roles in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted the US-run Ain al-Asad in Iraq’s western province of Anbar by launching a volley of missiles in retaliation.
According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base.
Iran has described the missile attack on Ain al-Asad as a “first slap.”
A man who accidentally grew, both literally and metaphorically
By Mahdieh Ghazvinian*
O n the morning of January 15, 2021, the sun had come up and I was getting out of bed. I saw my family out the door as they were leaving on a one-day trip. I didn’t know that this would be among the last times that my own legs were carrying me forward in life,” said Elias Bargi, a 20-year-old boy who has lost both of his legs in a traffic accident, exactly one year ago.
“The road was a little wet and I was going at 130 kilometers per hour. I couldn’t control the car, so I swerved and crashed into the guardrails. I was completely conscious. It took me a few minutes to realize that my legs were not there.”
A year has passed and now he has artificial legs. He grew up, both metaphorically and literally. His morale was raised, and he gained seven centimeters in height. Now, just like before, he is an independent and cheerful person.
“Now, I can do everything I did before; it has become harder but I can take care of it all,” claimed Elias, in his exclusive interview with Iran Daily, recounting the eventful year.
He is a man of tall stature with seasoned hands, broad shoulders, firm steps, a purposeful stride, and a strong will to get a shiny medal in the Paralympics. The man who accidentally grew much taller.
*Mahdieh Ghazvinian is a staff writer at Iran Daily.
Tell us about the minutes following the accident.
I was driving on the Yadegar-e Imam Expressway. The road was a little wet and I was going at 130 kilometers per hour. I couldn’t control the car, so I swerved and crashed into the guardrails. I was completely conscious. I tried to open the door, but it was jammed. I wasn’t even aware of what had happened to me. I looked into the rearview mirror and thanked God that my face was unharmed. When I tried to drag myself across to the passenger seat, I realized that my legs were not there.
Who was the first person that approached the wreckage and reached out to you?
The first person who reached out to me was a man named Mr. Akbari, followed by a lady; luckily they were both nurses. They took off their belt and scarves and tightened them around my legs to reduce the bleeding. Then they tried to gather my severed limbs from the scene of the accident. However, there were other individuals who not only didn’t help, but stole my watch, mobile phone and car accessories.
Who was the first member of your family that showed up?
Mr. Akbari advised me to call my mother, father and sister. But I said, “They don’t have the heart to see me in this state.” I opted to call my older brother because he is more like a friend to me.
My mother had once told me an account of how I fell down two stories at seven months old. My brother was the first one who had come to my side, and he was inconsolably weeping and extremely restless. Maybe that was why I decided to call my brother. I couldn’t even get myself to tell him what had happened. I just said, “Come”. But he insisted to know why and I had to let him know that my legs were severed. He was beside me in less than five minutes.
What would you do if you could go back to the day before the accident?
If I could go back in time, I would have gone with my parents on that trip to Karaj. Or maybe I would have slowed down my car.
Did you have nightmares?
I had terrible nightmares during the first week. I was really hopeless in the hospital. For a while, I used to just look at how others were walking and listen to the sound of their steps. But I would console myself by repeatedly saying, “Oh, God, I love you!”
At what point did you find hope for your future?
One day, Mr. Sajjad Salarvand came to visit me. He was a well-dressed man who walked into the room just fine. He said that the movie superstar, Parviz Parastui, had sent him to visit me, and suddenly rolled up the legs of his pants. I was utterly shocked. He had two prosthetic legs. Meeting Sajjad restored my hope in living.
Sajjad advised me not to let anyone, excluding my family, see me. Instead, he said that I should just post a video on Instagram later, when I want to let my friends know that I’ve recovered. I realized what great advice this was.
Have your character traits changed after the accident?
I’ve not been the same Elias as before. I’m much more patient and much better at my social skills. I’ve been in contact with more people. I have cut ties to some friends and replaced them with other friends. I was a student in the university, but I am not currently pursuing that.
How have your parents been dealing with this?
My father has sold his shop in the market and has been by my side the whole time. After about a year, I still don’t have the courage to look at my father because my father has really worn down and aged.
My mother laughs, but I know how much she suffers. That fateful day, I heard her beg the doctors to take her legs and attach them to her young son.
Everyone has moved heaven and earth for me. It was not pity. It was heartfelt. No one was allowed to visit me during the COVID-19 pandemic. But I was notified that a lot of my friends were gathering outside the hospital. Some even sneaked inside just to see me.
How was your experience of walking outside with the prosthetic legs?
The first time I went out with my friends, a curious playful kid asked me, “Uncle, are you an ironman, or have you come from outer space?” I said, “No, uncle. I just didn’t drive well.”
Have you seen a psychiatrist during this period?
I’ve been to a few sessions of psychiatry. But I was able to break through with my own high morale and desire to live. It was now up to me to raise the morale of others. I grew up significantly in my twentieth year on earth.
Are you satisfied with your new life?
At the moment, I’m loving my new life very much. This lifestyle helped me get acquainted with people whom I would have never met.
(Laughing) It has genuinely become better, too. Now, I can do everything I previously did; it has become harder but I can take care of it all. I exercise, hang out with my friends, play games, go shopping and even participate in rally races. The only limitation I have run into is driving stick-shift cars.
Are you worried about anything at all?
Initially, I was mainly worried about getting back to my normal life. But now, my biggest worry is finding a job.
Do you have a plan to become independent?
I’d like to marry my fiancée as soon as possible. She was by my side in every single moment, and as my doctor attested, she has been my morphine. I’m spiritually whole, and this has mattered the most to her, which, in turn, gave me motivation whenever I would think about it.
You are financially privileged. How much do you think this has helped you recover?
Maybe I am financially privileged. But if my morale wasn’t high, I would have never regained my health. To prove my point, the ambulance crew expected me not to live for more than half an hour, since I had lost so much blood.
Any last words?
All I say to everyone these days is: Don’t drive fast unless you are on a safe road. And be positive in your mindset.
Right now, I’m trying to procure special prosthetics so I can get myself to the Paralympics. I would like to compensate everyone, especially my doctors, by bringing home a medal.
Sajjad Salarvand was the one that sparked the first light of hope in Elias. Sajjad had lost his legs in a road accident in 2016.
He recounts, “One day, a friend called me up and informed me of a 20-year-old losing both his legs in a traffic accident just like mine. The first thing that came to my mind was that this young boy and his family are probably down in their spirits. I immediately started searching for his address. With his brother’s permission, I went up to his bedside, took my prosthetic legs off and showed them to him. He was stunned because he had just seen me walk in, and couldn’t believe that my legs were artificial. I told him that disability is no limitation, and advised him to exercise. In my opinion, a disabled person must reduce his dependency on others. I went with Elias on a three-day trip to the province of Lorestan, and he saw how I managed my day-to-day life just fine on my own. I even made sure that my prosthetic legs were seen when we were strolling around town. I wanted Elias to come to the realization that although we have been physically altered, we are not to hide from society.”
When Elias was finally able to stand on his legs with the help of two other individuals, I was watching him from behind and couldn’t bear to watch the scene. My son … my every hope in life … I would have been satisfied with disposing of all of my assets just to take Elias abroad, and see him sound in body and limb once again.
I was constantly talking to my God, saying, “Oh, God! I’m satisfied with whatever makes you satisfied!” I had never haggled with God. I had never complained. I was just happy to hear my son’s voice again. Maybe this was a test of patience.
During that one week when Elias was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), he didn’t eat anything. His mother and I couldn’t as well. I wish to see my son in a groom’s suit. I support him in any way I can. I’m willing to give my life right now to see him sound and healthy again. The only thing I could do was to buy him an automatic (shift) car that he really loved. I parked in the garage, and took him down on a wheelchair and surprised him. The next morning, he strapped the wheelchair to himself and started working out, and found a stronger motivation.
On July 16, 2000, I gave birth to Elias, a handsome boy weighing five and a half kilograms. We were so blessed. Such a calm, handsome and harmless boy my little lamb was. He never hurt anybody. We were waiting for him to stand on his feet for months, and it finally happened when he was 10 months old. I was so exhilarated to see my sweet chubby Elias standing. A week later, he was walking. I would count my son’s steps by reciting my childish poems. It was the sweetest experience. His little steps were more precious to me than his climbing Mount Everest.
The accident brought this memory back to me again, with the difference being that, when he would fall down at 10 months old, I would have said, “What happened, dear?”
However, after the accident, I shouldn’t have looked at my son, until he could stand on his own. I should have kept a distance from my motherly affection, and this was my most bitter experience as a mother.
But the sweetness of seeing him walk on his two feet for the second time … I just said, “Thank God.”
We were together all the time. I was 12 years older, and Elias grew up in my arms. I didn’t leave his side when he was in the hospital. I did my best not to emotionally treat him any different.
When I got to Elias’ bedside, he was shocked. But unlike other nearby patients who were moaning out of pain, Elias was oddly silent, as if nothing had happened. It was when the hospital staff came to prepare him for surgery that he discovered his legs are not coming back. He was silent still. I was expecting him to burst into tears at any moment, but Elias was cheerful and patient from an early age. He was never one to cry. From the moment he had that accident, he accepted it. He never once said in the hospital, “Where are my legs?” or “Will I have my legs again?” Despite his young age, he’s very mature. Unlike him, my older brother and I have not yet come to terms with this issue and, still, after about a year, it’s hard for me to see Elias like this. People used to tell us, “Be mindful; these individuals tend to commit suicide.” But we never saw any sign of depression in Elias.
Raeisi: Iran’s efforts to offset sanctions not tied to Vienna talks
Russia: ‘Real progress’ made in JCPOA talks, warns of opponents’ provocations
President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said on Friday his government’s efforts to render US sanctions on Iran ineffective were not tied to ongoing talks between the Islamic Republic and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna.
“Although the pursuit of removing sanctions is a serious agenda of the government, the efforts of the government to neutralize the sanctions are not dependent on the talks,” Raeisi tweeted, as Iran and the P4+1 countries – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – were engaged in talks to revive the nuclear pact, known as the JCPOA.
The talks resumed in late November under the Raeisi administration after a five-month hiatus with the aim of bringing the United States back to compliance after its 2018 unilateral withdrawal that saw former president Donald Trump reimposing and reinforcing “toughest ever” sanctions on Iran.
The sanctions targeted Iran’s oil exports, petrochemical and metal industries and banking system among other sectors.
Raeisi said despite sanctions Iran’s oil sales “have increased so much that we no longer worry and the proceeds are also returning to the country”.
Russia said Friday it was “optimistic” over “real progress” made at negotiations in the Austrian capital.
“There’s has been real progress… There’s real desire – primarily between Iran and the United States – to understand specific concerns and how these concerns can be considered in the general package” of documents, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Lavrov underscored that “it could only be a package solution,” just like the nuclear deal itself, TASS reported.
“They are making good progress at the moment, touch wood. We think they will come to an agreement,” he added.
Russia’s negotiator at the Vienna talks warned of provocations of JCPOA opponents as talks advanced.
“As we move ahead at the Vienna talks, the JCPOA opponents become more active and provocative in the public space. Regrettable and senseless,” Mikhail Ulyanov said in a tweet.
Ulyanov added that an “absolute majority of states,” including JCPOA parties seek the restoration of the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions.
After a rocky start, Iran said Monday that the talks had seen “relatively satisfactory progress”. However, the United States said that there were only “a few weeks left” to save the accord.
“We still believe that if we can get back in the weeks ahead – not months ahead, weeks ahead – to the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement, that would be the best thing,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.
Blinken again threatened that the US and its allies would be “looking at other steps, other options” if the talks collapse.
Iran has time and again reiterated that Iran wants the JCPOA to be restored to its original format and that the US, as the violator of the deal, must remove all its sanctions at once and in a verifiable way before rejoining the pact.
Tehran also demands assurances that US governments will not ditch the JCPOA again in the future and stresses that it will not give any concessions beyond the terms of the 2015 agreement.
Iran FM says ‘important consensus’ achieved in meeting with Chinese counterpart
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Friday he exchanged views with his Chinese counterpart on a “wide range of issues” and reached “important consensus” during his visit to China.
“At the beginning of the new year in 2022, I am delighted to embark on my first visit to China since taking office. In the beautiful Wuxi, Jiangsu, I exchanged views with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on a wide range of issues such as the comprehensive cooperation plan and the Vienna talks, and reached important consensus,” Amir-Abdollahian tweeted in Chinese after meeting Wang in eastern city of Wuxi, referring to a 25-year partnership agreement between the two nations and the ongoing negotiations in the Austrian capital for the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
He arrived there earlier in the day, heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation.
In his tweet, the top diplomat hoped that Tehran-Beijing relations would further improve.
“China’s Year of the Tiger is approaching. I wish the relationship between the two countries will be leaps and bounds as we enter the second 50th year,” Amir-Abdollahian added.
“I also wish that the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will be held during the Chinese Spring Festival, will bring vitality to the world under the epidemic!”
Upon his arrival in China, Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran and Beijing have made “very good progress in various issues in line with the interests of both sides”, adding “in the new [Iranian] government, we are facing more acceleration” of enhancing relations”.
“Strategic issues are on the agenda of the two countries, and these issues have created a new atmosphere in the correspondence between the presidents of the two countries,” he pointed out, according to Press TV.
Iran and China signed the strategic partnership agreement in March last year in defiance of the US sanctions.
The deal officially documents the Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that had been announced during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tehran in 2016. It sets the outlines of the two countries’ cooperation in political, cultural, security, defense, regional, and international domains for the next 25 years.
In an article published by China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian described his visit as a “promising horizon” for Tehran and Beijing’s promotion and development of cooperation in various domains.
“Together, Iran and China resolutely defended their territorial integrity and national sovereignty, protected multilateralism, and opposed unilateralism. They criticized the approach of introducing democracy as a patent of superpowers and, with their indigenous democratic systems, demonstrated to the world true democracy, common values of human society, justice and freedom,” he said.
Minister: Iran to welcome development of cultural ties with UAE
Arts & Culture Desk
Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaeili said that his country will welcome the expansion of cultural ties between Iran and the UAE.
The minister made the statement during his visit to the UAE pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday, Iran Daily reported.
Continued on Page 8
Bright outlook drawn for Tehran-Beijing economic relations: Chamber head
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday. The Iranian FM’s visit to China includes two main axes: Bilateral and international political issues and a review of the 25-Year Cooperation Plan between Tehran and Beijing.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Majidreza Hariri, the chairman of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce, expressed his positive assessment of the trip and the future of economic ties between the two countries.
How do you evaluate the current state of economic ties between Tehran and Beijing? Do you think that Amir-Abdollahian’s talks in China can yield economic achievements and agreements for Iran?
The year 2021 was marked as the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and China. In the same year, the 25-Year Cooperation Plan between Tehran and Beijing was signed and Iran became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
In the last 50 years, relations between the two countries have been expanding, especially after the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Iran’s relations with China became more organized as the Chinese side participated in important Iranian projects including construction power plants and subways. These ties were to some extent influenced by former president Rouhani’s tenure, after the signing of the JCPOA and the dominance of a policy of looking to the West.
Of course, economic relations between Iran and China did not decline during this period. For example, in 2014, bilateral trade reached $51.8 billion, which was a record. In January 2016, during the Chinese president’s visit to Iran, the sides targeted a bilateral trade of $60 billion per year.
Unfortunately, what occurred after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the return of sanctions, Iran-China relations declined because a large part of the two countries’ relations was in the field of oil and gas.
However, since two years ago, Iran has again moved towards strengthening relations with China, which was the beginning of a path that eventually led to the 25-Year Cooperation Plan between Tehran and Beijing.
Continued on Page 4
IRGC holds largest ever combined military drills in SE Iran
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Ground Force launched the largest ever combined military exercise in southeastern Iran.
The drills, codenamed Muhammad the Messenger of God (PBUH), was held by the Quds Base of the IRGC’s Ground Force in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan on Thursday.
Described as one of the largest operational training drills of the IRGC in the country’s southeast, the exercise, with a geographical and operational focus, was held in a combined format in two major military and nonmilitary phases, Tasnim News Agency reported.
According to the report, various operational units of the IRGC’s Quds Base, including missiles, artillery, drones, helicopters, armored vehicles, special forces, and specialized combat units, successfully conducted simulated and actual operations.
In the military phase of the exercise, infantry and commando forces also took part in the drills, which involved practicing electronic warfare, with a focus on offensive operations and strong defense.
“One of the important and operational features of the exercise, which was carried out with the participation of the Basij volunteer forces, Iran’s Law Enforcement Force and border guards, was the focus on the people’s role in ensuring lasting security,” according to the report.
Last month, the IRGC launched a large-scale military exercise in an area stretching along the southern shores of the country on the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Press TV wrote.
The drills involved various IRGC units, such as the aerospace force and the cyber-electronic division, and covered the coastlines of the southern Iranian provinces of Hormuzgan, Bushehr, and Khuzestan.
Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made great progress in developing and manufacturing a broad range of domestically-manufactured equipment, making the Armed Forces self-sufficient in this regard.
Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to build up its defense capabilities, emphasizing such abilities are entirely meant for the purpose of defense and will be never subject to negotiations.