For opposing Iran’s use of Hezbollah soldiers as cannon fodder in Syria.
On May 13, 2016, we reported on the death of Mustafa Badreddine at an airport in Syria, Another top Hezbollah commander killed – but who dunnit?
There have been a series of assinations of top Hezbollah commanders in the recent past, including Imad Mughniyeh (mastermind of almost all attacks on Israel and the U.S.), his son Imad Mughniyeh (who was killed along with several high level operatives and an Iranian general), Hassan Laqqis (key Hezbollah link to Iranian weapons procurement) and Samir Kuntar (who killed an Israeli girl by smashing her head against the rocks on a beach).
In some of the cases (Imad Mughniyeh) Israeli involvement was clear, in the others it’s presumed.
Hezbollah just lost another top commander, the brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyey, and its top commander in Syria, Mustafa Amine Badreddine.
Yet Hezbollah was not quick to blame Israel for assassinating Badreddine. To have done so would have necessitated Hezbollah take some significant retaliation, which it didn’t want to do for fear of escalation while it was engaged in Syria.
Hezbollah’s explanation for the killing was that a rebel artillery shell hit the building Badreddine was in, but that made no sense and the rebels weren’t even claiming they did it, which they certainly would have had they achieved such a success. We reported, Hezbollah Biggie Badreddine Blown Up, Big Mystery Follows:
Badreddine was considered a master bomb maker, credited with developing that combination of explosives and gas that took down the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and numerous American and other diplomatic facilities. Badreddine of late was commander of Hezbollah forces propping up the Assad regime, and was hated not only by Israeli but also by many Arab states. So he had plenty of enemies, and plenty of people who wanted him dead.
But he also lived in the shadows, with few photos of him prior to his death (Hezbollah has released more photos after his death) and a life lived under assumed names….
A funny thing then happened. Pro-Hezbollah media started deleting the accusations against Israel. Hezbollah then released a statement today improbably blaming a rebel artillery attack for Badreddine’s death…..
If Badreddine was killed by artillery, it was an incredibly lucky shot for which no one wants to take credit. Which seems incredibly unlikely.
Reports have been increasing in frequency lately that the Badreddine hit was an inside job.
A video report last month on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network had claimed that Badreddine’s killing was not the work of Israel or of Syrian rebel factions. Rather, the report contended, the former Hezbollah commander was shot after a meeting with Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani—executed on the orders of Soleimani and Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
In response to that report, the head of the IDF publicly said that Badreddine was killed by one of his own men, Israel’s Army Chief: Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Badreddine Killed by His Own Men:
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said reports that Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed by Hezbollah officers are in accordance to “intelligence we have.” The incident “indicates the depth of the internal crisis within Hezbollah,” and “the extent of the cruelty, complexity and tension between Hezbollah and its patron Iran.”
He added that despite Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria providing it with cumulative operational experience, it remains in crisis. “It is an internal crisis over what they are fighting fore, an economic crisis and a leadership crisis,” he asserted. Eisenkot was speaking at an academic conference in Netanya.
Also, a social media campaign has been started asking Hezbollah to explain what happened, Campaign prods Hezbollah to address assassination blamed on Israel:
An anonymous online campaign aimed at Hezbollah leaders seems to goad them to address the allegations that they were responsible for the assassination of the former commander Mustafa Badreddine.
At the beginning of the month, a video of a woman claiming to be Badreddine’s lover surfaced on an anonymous YouTube channel and accusing Hezbollah of having taken out the former terrorist leader. That explosive claim ostensibly lends credibility to the Israeli position that it had no part in the assassination.
The recent online campaign, which has also posted a billboard, includes the accusation, “Your silence is an admission.”
On various Twitter and Facebook accounts, the sentence was shown with a picture of Badreddine in uniform. The apparent goal is to have Hezbollah respond to the claims that the assassination was carried out as a result of tension between the organization and Iran. In those accounts, a video clip and pictures of the billboard campaign were included.
This could all be an Israeli-inspired attempt to sow doubt among Hezbollah’s ranks, but Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel’s Middle East analyst, explains what he has learned about the hit, Fatal dissent: When a Hezbollah commander argued with Iran:
The main reason for Badreddine’s assassination, according to Al Arabiya, was his differences of opinion with Soleimani over Hezbollah’s involvement in the battles in Syria.
A check with Arab and Western intelligence sources confirms this. Badreddine was known to have strongly opposed the fact that Hezbollah had become Iran’s cannon fodder in Syria. He would not allow his men to fight on the battlefield without Iran’s active cooperation in the battles. Badreddine demanded that the Iranians be full partners in the fighting in Syria and not sacrifice the “Arab Shi’ites.” Soleimani did not like Badreddine’s attitude, and neither, it seems, did Nasrallah.
According to Al Arabiya’s version of Badreddine’s death, four men met in a building near Damascus International Airport hours before he died. The first was Badreddine. Eyewitnesses say that the second was Soleimani himself, who left a few minutes after the meeting. The third was Badreddine’s personal escort, who also left the building, leaving only the “fourth man” — the killer, a member of Hezbollah and a former bodyguard of Nasrallah: Ibrahim Hussein Jezzini, whom Badreddine had trusted completely….
But after reviewing Al Arabiya’s exposé, it must be said that its conclusions sound more than logical. Any other possibility — that the opposition, Israel, or others were to blame — is unlikely. But a commanding officer of Hezbollah who followed a policy line that at odds with Iran, one might reasonably assume, would not find himself merely dismissed from his position. The only way to replace him, it might seem, would be to terminate him with extreme prejudice.
This certainly would explain Hezbollah’s silence.