Not a Shiite religious figure and not a martyr, Qassem Soleimani, the living commander of Iran's elite Qods Force, has been elevated to hero status.
Glorified religious sacrifice, a staple of the regime's efforts to secure its citizens' support, is giving way to an updated appeal to Iran's youth.
Iran and Saudi Arabia were already in opposing camps regarding a solution to Syria's civil war. A UN envoy is trying to keep the process on track.
Iran is moving faster than expected, the US says, raising the possibility of sanctions relief in January. But hard-line rhetoric persists on both sides.