Another ‘interesting’ Qassem Soleimani photo surfaces

Another interesting photo of Qassem Soleimani has been circulating, I picked it up from Rudaw’s facebook feed where the news agency was asking its followers to provide their ‘explanation’ of the scene which depicts Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (near) sitting beside Qassem Soleimani (far). Al-Muhandis is the operational commander of the Popular Mobilisation Committee and is thought to have direct operational control over the militias that constitute Kata’ib Hezbollah. He is sometimes referred to as Soleimani’s right-hand man in Iraq. He is also a close friend of Hadi al-Amiri (Badr Organisation commander). So the photo is suggestive of Soleimani’s key role within this dimension of al-hashd al-shaabi, nothing unexpected here. Perhaps more interesting is how these images of Soleimani are being deployed within regional and Western discourses on the Fallujah operation. For some, Soleimani is the ultimate bogeyman of ‘Persian’ Machiavellian schemes of aggression against the Arab world. For others, his presence in Iraq is unremarkable, as one Arab respondent on the Rudaw feed stated: “My explanation is that present is al-Muhandis, one of the leaders of al-hashd al-shaabi and next to him General Qassem Soleimani, one of the Iranian advisers to Iraq just like any of the American advisers who are providing military advice.”

Abu Muhanis and Qassem Soleimani

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