ANALYSIS-Iran leader cheered in Beirut, skewered at home

Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:10am GMT

* Adulation for Ahmadinejad in Lebanon, discontent in Iran

* Iran president beset by sanctions, economic woes

* Backing of Supreme Leader strengthens him against critics

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

BEIRUT, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad basked in a rock-star welcome from Hezbollah's Shi'ite loyalists on Wednesday, but his trip to Lebanon may offer only a brief respite from daunting challenges at home.

Many among the rice-throwing Lebanese crowds on the Beirut airport road will have benefited from the $1 billion or so that Hezbollah says it received from its Iranian sponsors for reconstruction after a 2006 war with Israel.

At home, Iranians often grumble that money their government lavishes on Lebanese or Palestinian militant groups would be better spent on alleviating their own hardships, set to worsen if Ahmadinejad keeps his word and slashes costly subsidies.

The feisty president, however, is not easily daunted. He may shrug off his expanding array of critics as long as he can count on the blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.   Continued...

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