An Iranian lawmaker says Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani brushed aside his offer for the legendary commander to take part in the upcoming 2021 presidential election just months before his assassination by the United States by stressing that he had a responsibility to protect the country militarily.
Speaking to Tasnim on Monday, Lawmaker Mohammad-Mahdi Zahedi said General Soleimani never eyed the country’s top political offices, despite the fact that he enjoyed enormous popularity among Iranians.
The lawmaker said that around two months prior to General Soleimani’s assassination in January 2020, “I told him ‘Let us start working now for your candidacy in the [Persian calendar year] 1400 (2021); and enter the field as the candidate of the revolutionary current and run for president.”
“Haj Qassem put on a smile and told me, ‘I am a man of the field who has to uphold the four walls around the country. I shall not allow outsiders through these four walls into the country. This is my mission. Don’t make such jokes with me,’” Zahedi remembered.
The general headed the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) before he was assassinated in a targeted drone attack by the US military. He was highly revered by the Iranian population as well as among people in other countries, particularly because of his role in defeating the Daesh terrorist group in the Middle East.
Although the commander was the chief strategist in the counter-terrorism operations in the battles with Daesh, he was constantly present on the frontlines of the battles. Footage showed him wearing khaki military clothes and speaking to his men while bullets could be heard passing overhead and explosions happened nearby.
He topped Foreign Policy (FP)’s 2019 list of Global Thinkers in the defense and security field.
The general made headlines around the world in November 2019 when he harshly put down then-US President Donald Trump, who had issued a verbal threat against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
His high status and popularity with the Iranian people sparked speculation in the media worldwide that he might run for president some time.
General Soleimani dismissed such speculation on several occasions.