Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Iran instructs Hezbollah to turn away from Israel and focus on Saudi Arabia

(Beirut) After the killing of Hezb-allah military leader Mustafa Badreddine last week inside Syria.The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead.

The order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences. Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, His deputies were named as Ibrahim Aqil and Talal Hamiah.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement. It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area." The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they hold Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a Shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.