'Hizbullah making preparations to seize power in Beirut'

Group conducting simulations in case of Hariri indictments, 'Asharq Alawsat' reports; retired general says group could seize power in three days.

Hizbullah Rockets 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Hizbullah Rockets 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hizbullah is preparing to seize power in Beirut should a UN tribunal implicate the group in the assassination of the country’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri, according to Lebanese sources quoted in Lebanon’s Asharq Alawsat newspaper on Tuesday.
The report said that the group was preparing for a “zero hour scenario” and was rehearsing its moves in the capital city.
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Hizbullah, Amal and other pro-Syrian groups have been in close contact, coordinating a stand-by plan to take control of Beirut and the road to the South of the city, the paper said. The Christian and Sunni areas would also be neutralized.
The sources said that the groups were already assigning possible zones – who would control which areas – in a dayafter scenario.
According to the sources, Beirut would be divided into three zones of military control, assigned to Amal, Hizbullah and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Alternative plans, they said, were being prepared by Hizbullah in the event the other groups could not control their zones.
“Zero hour” in the report apparently refers to a scenario in which the Lebanese capital descends into violence and leaves a security vacuum after the Hariri tribunal publishes its report and indictments are issued.
The report quoted retired Lebanese Brig.-Gen. Amin Hattit, who is known to be close to Hizbullah, as saying that many aspects of the plans were realistic.
He said that Hizbullah’s current strategy was to prevent strife, but if the group were unable to prevent an explosion of unrest, it would exploit the situation.
“Everyone knows that the temptation will be limited geographically to areas where there is a Shi’ite majority,” Hattit added, referring to areas of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley region, and the South of the country.
He concluded that “if this scenario does take place, Hizbullah would be able to seize power in three days, or a week at most,” and that the “era of Hariri in Lebanon” would end forever.