This appointment sheds light upon the view that Yazid intended to confront Imam al-Husayn (as). Appointing Ibn Ziyad to the position of governor of Kufah was a premeditated plan because he was the only person Yazid deemed capable of carrying out the duty of killing al-Husayn (as).
It is worth noting that Yazid did not, previous to that time, have a good relationship with ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. He had even considered dismissing him from the governorship of Basrah.
However, because he did not deem Nu‘man ibn Bashir, who was the incumbent governor of Kufah, capable of confronting Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and Imam al-Husayn (as), Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was left with no option but to appeal to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for help.
He not only expressed his sudden pleasure with Ibn Ziyad, but also appointed him to the governorship of both Kufah and Basrah as well. In a letter to Ibn Ziyad, Yazid wrote, “Put Muslim ibn ‘Aqil under strict surveillance. Follow and track him down. If you arrest him, put him to death.”5
Muslim ibn ‘Aqil had come to Kufah as Imam al-Husayn’s (as) envoy. His mission was to inform the people that Imam al-Husayn (as) was on his way to Kufah.
5. Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 258; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 268; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 164.