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Consumer Goods and Sports Competitions Launched as "Brand Soleimani" Takes Over

January 4, 2021
Ehsan Mehrabi
5 min read
One year after General Soleimani was killed, government institutions are falling over themselves to carry out projects in his name
One year after General Soleimani was killed, government institutions are falling over themselves to carry out projects in his name
More public memorials are planned after a series of badly-conceived commemorative statues turned into a PR disaster last year
More public memorials are planned after a series of badly-conceived commemorative statues turned into a PR disaster last year
More than 300 books about the former commander of the IRGC's Quds Force are apparently already published or due to be published this year
More than 300 books about the former commander of the IRGC's Quds Force are apparently already published or due to be published this year

The anniversary of the assassination of General Ghasem Soleimani has injected new life into the propaganda structures of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have begun churning out content in his memory at a pace not seen since the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Simultaneously, an array of money-making schemes have sprung up in the country bearing the name of the former commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.

One year after General Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport, government institutions are falling over themselves to carry out projects in his name. The Ministry of Health, for instance, has registered all projects related to Covid-19 patients under the name of Soleimani, while the Ministry of Education has announced the registration of no fewer than 100 schools under his name.

Grander gestures still have been made by the Iranian judiciary. Release orders for convicts who pay blood-money, which is standard practice in Iran, have lately come adorned with the title “Vow of the Heavenly Commander”.

In the commercial sector, the IRIB has announced that a new type of rice called Shahriar has begun to be produced using "nuclear technology" in Mazandaran to mark the anniversary. Automaker Iran Khodro has unveiled a new dashboard frame for its Dena car bearing the name of the late mastermind of Iranian proxy warfare.

Not to be outdone, Hairata Manufacturing Company has launched a new range of low-cost home appliances called Ghasem Soleimani, which will include refrigerators, freezers, ovens and washing machines.

Provincial officials have announced an array of more than 10,000 schemes large and small in the late commander’s name. These include the distribution of books and other educational materials, donations of consignments of face masks, the distribution of food to the needy – all gestures that arguably should be being made anyway – as well as poetry events, book exhibitions and film screenings.

In Tehran, a special two-day conference has already been held to discuss the character of Ghasem Soleimani and unveil his official biography. Entitled I Was Not Afraid of Anything, the book features notes from the Supreme Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran and is the first work to be published by the newly-anointed “Haj Ghasem School of Publishing”.

Meanwhile, several sports competitions that were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak are now re-scheduled to be held in the name of Ghasem Soleimani. After almost a year of hiatus, the Motorcycling and Car Racing Federation has hosted a round of competitions for the Ghasem Soleimani Cup.

Religious representatives in Iran have also declared that special ceremonies will be held in honor of Soleimani, supported by the charity sector. Meanwhile Sattar Alizadeh, director-general of endowments and charitable affairs for Gilan, has claimed that Hassan Sadeghi Sabour, a 92-year-old philanthropist from Lahijan, bought and donated a 270 square-meter worth one billion tomans to promote Soleimani's “school of thought”.

These projects are purely a branding exercise and do not incur new costs to the public. But simultaneously, more co-ordinated efforts to commemorate General Soleimani have been implemented across Iran that could rack up costs of billions of tomans.

 

Monuments and Landmarks at the Expense of Municipalities

Monuments have been unveiled in various Iranian cities to mark the anniversary of Ghasem Soleimani's death. On Monday, a ceremony in the presence of Pirouz Hanachi, the Mayor of Tehran, marked the beginning of a project to memorialize Soleimani and the Iraqi founder of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, in the capital.

Mohammad Jalal Maab, chairman of the Reconstruction Organization of the Holy Shrines in Iraq – which the US Treasury alleges is controlled by the Quds Force – has also announced the construction of two other monuments in Iran and Iraq. These new projects follow a multitude of statues of the late commander that were erected last year, some of which caused public ridicule and had to be removed.

The Municipality of Tehran has also announced that in addition to the posters and billboards installed throughout the city in recent days, two murals will also be erected and video installations are scheduled to be projected on Azadi Tower for two nights on January 4 and 5. The Cultural and Artistic Organization of Tehran Municipality has also announced that with the aid of donors, selected restaurants and food stores, it will launch a campaign called "Pledge of the Commander of Hearts".

Mohammad Mushafi, the deputy mayor of Mashhad, has said that some that 300 green, white and red pendants bearing the imagess of Ghasem Soleimani, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis are being distributed in the city. Over the past 12 months, he said, seven murals with a combined area of ​​1900 square meters have been painted on the city walls.

 

Hundreds of Books and Films in the Pipeline

According to Iranian Radio, more than 300 books about Ghasem Soleimani have been published or are scheduled to be published this year. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, special aide on international affairs to the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament and spokesman for the Memorial Day Headquarters of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, has said the biography will be translated into seven different languages.

Dozens of short and feature-length films about Ghasem Soleimani have also been released, from documentaries about his life and achievements to one entitled “The Story of Photos", which narrates a one-day trip he made to Shiraz.

The first ever computer game produced by the the Imam Reza IRGC Cyberspace Center, called Qasem 1.20, has been unveiled in Mashhad. The IRIB and the municipality's Cultural and Artistic Organization also confirmed that at least six songs will be recorded about Ghasem Soleimani in the weeks and months to come.

 

The Cost to the Public

Many of these projects are funded by government agencies, in quantities that have not yet been declared. The only transparent budget for the memorial program was the massive allocation to the “Ghasem Soleimani Foundation” in the government’s budget bill for 2021/22.

On Wednesday, December 3, it was revealed that the government had earmarked a total of 8.5 billion tomans to this organization, leading to complaints about a lack of transparency. The head of the Ghasem Soleimani Foundation is  Zeinab Soleimani, the late General’s daughter. Amid controversy about this colossal allocation by the government, she issued a public statement calling instead for the money to be spent on “solving the problems of the people and promoting the school of Haj Ghasem.”

This organization, however, will have little difficulty in raising funds from other sources. And the true cost of all these propaganda projects in the name of Ghasem Soleimani to the public purse is likely to be many times more.

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