The rise of Rifi

Retired police chief Ashraf Rifi entered the spotlight today when he threw his support behind the fighters of Bab El Tabbaneh in the ongoing clashes in Tripoli. 
But posters praising Rifi have been up for weeks in Lebanon’s second largest city. His likeness graces Tripoli’s major intersections and roundabouts:
Rifi has recently indicated that he may be going into politics and this massive campaign seems to be a prelude to that.
Even the highways leading into Tripoli have been marked as Rifi territory:

In many of the advertisements Rifi appears with former PM Saad Hariri, which may shed light on who is footing the sizable bill for these dozens of billboards:

The designer seemed to have been fond of trinities. Here is Rifi with two slain officers, who were Hariri loyalists:

Though Rifi retired two months ago, he was touring Australia last month accompanied by the Lebanese Ambassador in what appeared to be a semi-official visit covered by the National News Agency.  There he apparently discussed “policing issues” and “a memorandum of understanding signed between the two police forces.”

The report didn’t provide detail about the MOI or how a retired official–and thus private citizen–had been authorized to discuss security issues.