Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad will savour every moment. Stung by opposition at home, where even his own fundamentalist friends now dislike him, he will be feted in Lebanon on Wednesday, a country where he can expect genuine welcome from at least part of the population.
While he celebrates Iran’s close ties to Lebanon and its Shia community, he will also thumb his nose at the US, which has publicised its unhappiness about the visit. And he will delight in tormenting Israel by reaching so close to its northern borders.
But if the trip comes at an opportune time for the embattled Iranian president, the timing could not be worse for Lebanon.
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is landing in a country in turmoil, torn apart by a political drama in which Tehran plays an important role. For months now, Iran’s main ally in Lebanon and Israel’s main foe in the region, the militant Shia group Hizbollah, has been on a relentless campaign against a UN-backed special tribunal that is expected to indict some of its members over the 2005 killing of Rafiq Hariri, the ex-prime minister and Sunni leader.