NY Times Sunday Front: Soleimani ‘Universally Admired...Near Cult Figure Status’

January 5th, 2020 8:08 PM

Reporters Farnaz Fassihi and Richard Perez-Pena warned Iran was united “in anger at the United States” over the targeted takedown of Iranian military leader and terrorist Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad airport on the front of Sunday’s New York Times.

The online headline deck tilted toward dire warnings from a united, America-hating Iran: “Iranians Close Ranks Behind Leaders After U.S. Kills Popular General -- The death of Qassim Suleimani strengthened the hand of hard-liners, experts say, and undermined those who have tried to normalize relations with the West”:

In cities across Iran, tens of thousands packed the streets to mourn Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Black-clad women and men beat their chests and clutched photos of him. A black flag went up on the golden dome of Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad, one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam.

Just a few weeks earlier, the streets were filled with protesters angry with their leaders over the flailing economy and the country’s international isolation.

But at least for now, Iran is united -- in anger at the United States.

It wasn't before?

Young and old. Rich and poor. Hard-liner and reformer, General Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful military leader, was almost universally admired and had near cult figure status. After being killed in Baghdad on Friday in a drone strike ordered by President Trump, his image is now plastered across Tehran, shrouded in black drapes.

The Times chose "assassination" as its noun of choice, again parroting Iranian talking points:

The assassination appears to have solidified the hard-liners’ grip on power, neutralizing at least for the moment those who had called for talks with the West, experts inside and outside of Iran said.


Iran is bestowing honors on Mr. Suleimani as if he were a combination of statesman and saint. His body will circulate around shrines in all the holy cities of Shiite Islam from Samarra, Kadhimiya, Karbala and Najaf in Iraq to Mashhad and Qom in Iran.


And the assassination may well provide Iran’s leaders with an excuse to intensify its repression of dissenters and critics.

General Suleimani’s killing “was the worst thing that could happen to civic movements in Iran and Iraq,” said Amir Rashidi, an Iranian cybersecurity expert based in New York.


“The moderates were already on life support” before the killing of General Suleimani, Mr. Nasr said, and Iran will hold legislative elections next month. “I would guess the hard-liners are going to do very well. This kind of pressure on Iran, just like in any country, plays into the hands of the security forces.”

Reporter Fassihi’s tweeting about Soleimani hardly inspires confidence in her objectivity. A sample from Sunday morning:

Trump's assasination of Gen. #Soleimani has: 1. United Iranians of all stripes. 2. Speed up Iraq's talk of expelling of US troops. 3. Taken region to brink of war. 4. Turned the brewing anti-#Iran backlash in Iraq & Lebanon to full blown anti-American mood. But are we safer?