Top news: A senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan Laqees, was assassinated outside his home south of Beirut, where he was shot in the head and neck by unkown assailants.
Hezbollah immediately cast blame for the assassination on Israel, which promptly denied the claim. "These automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hezbollah," Yigal Palmor, a spokesman at the Israeli foreign ministry, said. "They don't need evidence, they don't need facts. They just blame anything on Israel."
Laqees is a shadowy figure within Hezbollah, but he is believed to have served as an intermediary between the group and its patrons in Iran. With Hezbollah stepping up its activities in Syria in support of the Basha al-Assad regime, Laqees may have fallen within the crosshairs of Hezbollah's other regional rivals, most notably Saudi Arabia, which is engaged in a vicious proxy war with Iran over influence in the region. The head of Hezbollah said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was behind a massive blast at the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month.
"Hassan was the leading figure who received Iranian guidance, he studied in Iran the issues of microwarfare, terrorism, counter-terrorism, and he brought this knowledge with him to Hezbollah, so he was one of these channels through which the Iranians gave Hezbollah their assistance," the military writer and FP contributor Ronen Bergman told the BBC.
Oil: Iran's rapprochement with the West is making unlikely bedfellows of American oilmen and Iranian mullahs. As FP's Jamila Trindle reports, Iran's move toward the West -- and a resulting desire to boost oil production -- together with increasing energy production in North America, is putting enormous pressure on OPEC and may result in lower oil prices.
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EPA/HEZBOLLAH MEDIA OFFICE