Writing at Iranwire.com, journalist Reza HaghighatNejad puts together a useful photo essay of dignitaries attending the funeral of the mother Qods Force chief (and designated terrorist) Qasem Soleimani. HaghighatNejad is correct to note:
As political barometers go, nothing tops a regime funeral in Iran. Who attended from which faction, who received a triple-kiss, who sent gladiolas and a note; often these events are more illuminating in matters of state than an election. In that light, the event of the year was surely the funeral of the mother of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Qods Force, held in Tehran this past weekend.
When I was in southern Iraq during the Iranian elections earlier this summer, I did a debate on the meaning of Hassan Rouhani’s victory via telephone on an NPR affiliate in California. Iraqis who were hearing one side of the conversation could not understand the purpose of the debate. “Don’t Americans understand that Qasem Soleimani is the real president of Iran?” one asked.
While the West hopes for change and rumors abound about the possibility of bilateral tête-à-têtes, the embrace of Soleimani should not be ignored:
The message of condolence sent by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei topped the proceedings, read aloud and describing Soleimani’s service to Islam and Muslims as a “valuable treasure.” In response, Soleimani, in rather uncustomary manner, relayed his own message to the Supreme Leader, in which he called himself “ashamed and lowly” before Khamenei’s favour, and declared his wish to martyr himself in recompense. Soleimani went on to call Khamenei a peerless leader and the true head of the Muslim world, underscoring both his ideological affiliation with and total obedience to the Supreme Leader.
And lest the White House place its hopes in the so-called reformists, former President Mohammad Khatami might be a useful barometer of just what the reformists stand for:
As unexpected messages go, the missive of former president Mohammad Khatami has also caught the Iranians media’s attention. Despite some friction between the Revolutionary Guards and Khatami during his tenure (the Guards threatened to intervene in 1999 if Khatami didn’t clean up the Tehran University student protests himself), in recent years it has been said that the relationship between Soleimani and Khatami is actually decent. Khatami’s condolence note seemed to confirm that, praising the commander’s record in resistance and martyrdom.
At any rate, the whole photo essay is worth a look, as some of the Islamic Republic’s shadiest characters appear briefly in the limelight.