|Soleimani [Image Source]|
May 17, 2016 | Middle East Eye | David Hearst
Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, in the wake of the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria. According to well-informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who came to Beirut to give his condolences. Soleimani also named Badreddine's successor and his two deputies. Badreddine's replacement is Fuad Shukr, 55, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen. Shukr comes from the core group which started Hizbullah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah. Shukr was responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. His two deputies are Ibrahim Aqil and Talal Hamiah. The appointments are unprecedented, as previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hizbullah.
Shukr's appointment contradicts an earlier report in Asharq al-Awsat that Badreddine's nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor. Iran's order to Hizbullah appointing a successor confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine's death.
Additional relevant background here: "02-Mar-16: Saudi and Gulf states announce they now view Hezbollah as terrorists".