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SU Professor: "Something Had to be Done" to Stop Gen. Soleimani's Influence in Middle East Conflicts


A Syracuse University law professor says the death of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani is a step toward tamping down more than two decades of orchestrated conflicts and proxy wars across the Middle East.  Corri Zoli is director of research at SU’s Institute for Security Policy and Law. 

She says the increasingly bold attacks on Saudi oil refineries, ships in the Gulf of Oman, and an embassy and air base in Iraq all have Soleimani’s signature.

"Something had to be done.  Former General David Petraeus was in the news the other day saying, listen, we had to reestablish deterrence somehow because the moves were getting more and more audacious.  Closer and closer to US civilian populations, closer and closer to armed forces."

She says without the charismatic Soleimani, the smaller, localized terrorist groups he supported across the region won’t have the foundation of funding and training they once had.

"Those are real capacity issues undercutting the leadership role of this proxy warfare infrastructure that are very significant.  We will see potentially less use of those types of organized forces because of it."

Even with a deputy appointed as a replacement, Zoli says he will lack Soleimani’s authority and expertise.  She says that will likely mean more stability in the Middle East.

"You can see reporters [in Iran] saying Soleimani's defeat is a plus for Iraq being able to stabilize now; it's a plus for Afghanistan not to have younger men being recruited into these terrorist organizations; it's a plus for stability in Syria.  There were over 7 million refugees created from the civil war in Syria.  It's a plus for those refugees to be able to return to their homes now because they won't be faced by the proxy warfare that Soleimani was directing."

Meanwhile, vast crowds filled the streets of Tehran for Soleimani’s funeral.   Zoli says to remember that most of those mourning and marching are being forced to under the authoritarian regime, while other Iranians are saying Soleimani’s fall from power is long overdue.  The threatening rhetoric between Iran and US leaders continues, but she’s not convinced the retaliatory actions will be as significant as some are suggesting.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at