Thursday, March 08, 2007

Norooz facts and links

Norooz starts on March 21st at 00:07 Greenwich Mean Time. This means it will be at 3:27 in Tehran and the rest of Iran and 19:07 in New York City and 16:07 in Los Angeles.

Unlike the January 1st New Year, The Iranian/Persian/Zoroastrian New Year begins at the same moment all over the world, which means those who are up at 3:27 in the morning in Tehran will be celebrating with people having afternoon tea in Los Angeles.

For those of you Down Under… would you rather celebrate Norooz on our autumnal equinox, which, I guess, would be your vernal equinox? Tell me.

Here in Iran, the shopping and decorating has begun. Goldfish and mirrors are out everywhere. I haven’t seen grass yet… For those of you who have never celebrated Norooz, grass, mirrors, apples, coins, candles, goldfish, decorated eggs, money, and new clothes are all part of the festivities. I have included some links below the post that can help you find your way around Norooz. As always, watch Norooz 2007 for links and pictures as they come in.

About the Equinox:
Equinoxes & Solstices

About Norooz:
About Norooz

The New Year of the Iranian Peoples

Flickr photos tagged norooz

Wikipedia (of course)

Norooz countdown

A Norooz story

Another one

About the Iranian Calendar:

Wikipedia (again)


Rosemary said...


Former Iranian Defense Official Talks to Western Intelligence

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2007; Page A16

A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran's ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official.

Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari's whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to U.S. intelligence.

Asgari served in the Iranian government until early 2005 under then-President Mohammad Khatami. Asgari's background suggests that he would have deep knowledge of Iran's national security infrastructure, conventional weapons arsenal and ties to Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Iranian officials said he was not involved in the country's nuclear program, and the senior U.S. official said Asgari is not being questioned about it. Former officers with Israel's Mossad spy agency said yesterday that Asgari had been instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah in the 1980s, around the time of the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

Iran's official news agency, IRNA, quoted the country's top police chief, Brig. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam, as saying that Asgari was probably kidnapped by agents working for Western intelligence agencies. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Asgari was in the United States. Another U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, denied that report and suggested that Asgari's disappearance was voluntary and orchestrated by the Israelis. A spokesman for President Bush's National Security Council did not return a call for comment.

The Israeli government denied any connection to Asgari. "To my knowledge, Israel is not involved in any way in this disappearance," said Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry.

An Iranian official, who agreed to discuss Asgari on the condition of anonymity, said that Iranian intelligence is unsure of Asgari's whereabouts but that he may have been offered money, probably by Israel, to leave the country. The Iranian official said Asgari was thought to be in Europe. "He has been out of the loop for four or five years now," the official said.

Israeli and Turkish newspapers reported yesterday that Asgari disappeared in Istanbul shortly after he arrived there on Feb. 7. Iran sent a delegation to Turkey to investigate his disappearance and requested help from Interpol in locating him.

Former Mossad director Danny Yatom, who is now a member of Israel's parliament, said he believes Asgari defected to the West. "He is very high-caliber," Yatom said. "He held a very, very senior position for many long years in Lebanon. He was in effect commander of the Revolutionary Guards" there.

Ram Igra, a former Mossad officer, said Asgari spent much of the 1980s and 1990s overseeing Iran's efforts to support, finance, arm and train Hezbollah. The State Department lists the Shiite Lebanese group as a terrorist organization.

"He lived in Lebanon and, in effect, was the man who built, promoted and founded Hezbollah in those years," Igra told Israeli state radio. "If he has something to give the West, it is in this context of terrorism and Hezbollah's network in Lebanon."

The organization, led by Hasan Nasrallah, is believed to have been behind several attacks against U.S., Jewish and Israeli interests worldwide, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans, and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed more than 80 people.

Israel fought a bloody, month-long war with Hezbollah last summer in south Lebanon after the group seized two Israeli soldiers. The soldiers have not been returned and their fate is unknown. Other Israeli soldiers have vanished in Lebanon during decades of conflict along the countries' shared border, most notably an Israeli airman named Ron Arad. Yatom said it is possible Asgari "knows quite a lot about Ron Arad."

In a January briefing to Congress, then-Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte described Hezbollah as a growing threat to U.S. interests. "As a result of last summer's hostilities, Hezbollah's self-confidence and hostility toward the United States as a supporter of Israel could cause the group to increase its contingency planning against United States interests," Negroponte said.

U.S. intelligence officials said they had no evidence that Hezbollah was actively planning attacks but noted that the organization has the capacity to do so if it feels threatened.

Correspondents Scott Wilson in Jerusalem and Anthony Shadid in Beirut and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

plateau said...

Hi, you've an interesting blog. I'll check it regularly.

Anonymous said...

Hi ... I just chanced upon your blog today, and its great stuff. An American in Tehran; very rare. I know you probably get "coffee offers" from English-speaking Tehrani strangers all the time, but I hope you will consider mine, as I share your missing of the States, and an American voice across the table would be the closest thing to sitting @ starbucks : ) ... er, I dont know if this is proper "netiquette" but I would be happy to hear from you via email:
(will keep my name unwritten here as its a public access page)

Best wishes for the solar new year! -TM

p.s. I just started a blog last week, it doesnt have much yet, but u can add comments if u like: