The sources said Hizbullah was being aided by former Lebanese President
Michel Aoun, a former nationalist who over the last two years has become an
ally of Iran and its proxies. They said Aoun has agreed to cooperate with a
Hizbullah plan to stage a coup against the Hariri government and arrest the
prime minister, his aides and political allies.
"In some cases, Aoun agents have served as middle men to buy property
for Hizbullah, and in other cases, they have simply rented apartments to
Hizbullah for fighters and weapons," the source said.
The Lebanese Web site Beirut Observer said 3,500 Hizbullah fighters have
been deployed along the Christian-dominated coast north of Beirut, Middle East Newsline reported. Most of
Lebanon's political elite, particularly those from the anti-Syrian March 14
coalition, live in the area.
The Observer said Hizbullah has targeted Hariri and his top aides for
arrest. Some of the aides were identified as Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of
the Hariri-controlled Internal Security Forces, and chief prosecutor Said
Mirza. The head of the intelligence branch, Col. Wessam Hassan, was also
said to have been designated a Hizbullah target.
For his part, Hariri has delayed his scheduled return to Lebanon from
Saudi Arabia. The sources said Hariri has been alerted to the Hizbullah plot
and sought help from Saudi Arabia to neutralize any coup attempt.
Hariri, under pressure from Saudi Arabia, has sought to defuse a
confrontation with Hizbullah in connection to a United Nations investigation
of his father's assassination in 2005. The prime minister, long known for
his opposition to Syria, apologized to the regime of President Bashar Assad
saying Damascus was behind the killing.
Still, Hizbullah and Syrian allies have demanded that Hariri resign.
Hizbullah has pressured Hariri to blame Israel for the death of his father,
who also served as prime minister.
The last Hizbullah offensive against the government was in 2008 when
Iranian-trained Shi'ite fighters stormed offices of the Future Party, now
headed by Hariri. Hizbullah also attacked the Druze-dominated area of Mount
Lebanon but was beaten back by forces aligned with Walid Jumblatt.