Iran Hizballah upgrade war preparations, new front line commander
Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah has quietly placed Hashim Safi Al-Din, his cousin and heir apparent, in command of southern Lebanon and its border with Israel, further upgrading Iran-backed preparations for an armed clash
Our intelligence sources say this appointment is the most ominous sign to date of the seriousness Iran and Hizballah attach to their plans for an early war with Israel. Three further developments point in this direction:
1. Tehran, Damascus and Nasrallah are tensely watching the clock ticking for the UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon - STL to deliver indictments against top Hizballah officials before the end of this year or early January.
This action that could quickly ignite the inflammable Lebanese-Israeli border, an interconnection Hizballah's leader eagerly embraced in his latest speech of Thursday, Nov. 11.
2. Tehran views the newly appointed South Lebanon commander, Hashim Safi Al-Din, is its most stalwart partisan in the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah leadership since Imad Moughnieh passed away two years ago in an exploding car in Damascus. Safi Al-Din is therefore trusted most of all Hizballah's leaders to do as he is told by Iran in a direct confrontation with Israel.
Iran did not get this sort of obedience in the 2006 War: Nasrallah went his own way regardless of strategic and military instructions from Tehran
But Tehran is taking no chances of any more insubordination from its proxy. Nasrallah will be kept in line by Iran's obedient loyalist in the key command position in South Lebanon and Iran will stay in control of a future confrontation with Israel from the word go.
3. At the same time, the appointment of his cousin confirms Hassan Nasrallah as the Hizballah strongman capable of bringing to fruition the ambition Tehran and Damascus cherish of establishing their man in Beirut as boss of Lebanon.
With Safi Al-Din's appointment to the South Lebanese command, Tehran has deployed a troika for running the next war with Israel on its behalf: Nasrallah, his cousin and their direct controller, Iran's own Al Qods Brigades officer Gen. Hossein Mahadavi.
In other words, with this new appointment, southern Lebanon (and soon, all of Lebanon) is even more under the direct control of Iran. That can't be good for Israel or for the rest of the world.