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Opinion: Hezbollah – What a Blow! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hezbollah has accused the Syrian opposition of killing its most prominent military commander in Lebanon and Syria Mustafa Badreddine by targeting one of the group’s centres in Damascus with artillery fire. Who will believe that? The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that it has not “recorded the fall or launch of missiles from eastern Ghouta on Damascus International Airport since a week ago”.

Was Badr Al-Din killed by the group itself? The truth is, it is hard to believe both scenarios. It’s hard to believe the group’s statement that Syrian factions assassinated him, just as it is hard to believe that the group killed him. Mustafa’s murder is considered a painful blow to the group, and it is clear that his assassination was the result of a rigorous operation. It is interesting that the incident took place near Damascus airport which has already been targeted by Israel in order to attack the group.

Of course, Mustafa Badreddine was not Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. However, he was more dangerous; he has been one of the founders of terrorism in our region for decades. He was also one of the leading masterminds of bombings, a pioneer of assassinations before Al-Qaeda and an efficient military commander of Hezbollah even whilst Imad Mughniyah was around.

According to what an informed source told me, Mustafa was “responsible for Hassan Nasrallah’s security and protection, was trained by the group’s first assassinations expert and was interested in the safety of the area around Assad”. The source added that “before the assassination of Mustafa was one thing, and after his assassination was something else. His assassination means that it is possible that Naim Qassem or Hassan Nasrallah will be the next target”.

It is noteworthy that the confused Hezbollah has not hastened to accuse Israel despite the fact that some of its media outlets have done so. Some of the group’s officials asked some journalists not to talk about the Israeli role. The reason being that accusing Israel would mean that the group would have to respond in order to save face. However, the group is aware that the timing was not right and that there isn’t a serious Arab country that will defend it internationally, especially after its recent crimes in Syria, as was the case in 2006. In addition to this, the international community will not be keen on appeasement now.

Who assassinated Mustafa Badreddine, then? Assad’s regime? This is hard to believe because his assassination is considered a blow to morale that the group and its supporters cannot tolerate. Iran, then? Not likely as it had the ability to have him replaced by simply making a phone call and cannot afford the repercussions of the news of his death in terms of propaganda after its losses in Khan Touman!

Who, then? It seems that whoever killed Mustafa is a professional on the ground, has lots of clues to the game there, knows the most important cards, can move undisturbed and can do what he wants when he wants to serve his interests. Perhaps the assassination of Mustafa is a disciplinary slap in the face for Hezbollah which can only take the blow and shut up. However much the group or Hassan Nasrallah screams, their scream will have no meaning because a treacherous scream does not have an echo.