Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new year message was quite peculiar, "Inshallah (God willing), in this coming year, Imam Mahdi, supported by Jesus Christ, will come to help the people, end injustice, and fulfill our wishes."
Within 48 hours, the United States assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's second most influential figure after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Keeping in mind Israel's role, tensions between Washington and Tehran are also escalating under the influence of hardcore followers of both messianic and Mahdi-based faiths. The idea that some want to "force" God's hand in bringing about Armageddon, which one would have dismissed as a conspiracy theory back in the day, is now an obvious fact. One could easily argue that a handful of radical believers in the United States, Israel, and Iran are leading the world to a rather dark place.
The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a man responsible for the deaths of many innocent people in Syria, represents a turning point in this regard. After all, the late Iranian general was no ordinary official. He was Iran's second most powerful figure and personally oversaw the bulk of his country's military operations abroad. To preserve its regional influence, Iran has no choice but to respond to Washington's latest move. Whatever the Iranians end up doing, however, won't have an impact as significant as Soleimani's death.
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