New head of military wing appointed directly by Revolutionary Guard in significant shift in relationship between Tehran and Lebanese movement.
The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.
The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement’s military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.
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 (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, MEE understands.
Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE.
Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.
Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.