As the first day of spring swept across the northern half of the globe, Iranians at home and abroad celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The ancient holiday's traditions date back centuries, but new customs have started taking hold in more recent times. This year, amid profound internal divisions and growing international tensions, the Official Nowruz Greeting became a new vehicle for mobilization and an occasion to outline strikingly different visions of the past, the present, and the future of Iran.
The Nowruz messages offered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's two top opposition leaders, and U.S. President Barack Obama all served as much more than simple holiday greetings, instead becoming video salvos in the country's two ongoing conflicts. The New Year's wishes represented the latest rhetorical volley in the simmering domestic battle between the government and the opposition over the outcome of the last elections, and they acted as diplomatic missiles in the international clash between Tehran and the West over the country's nuclear program.
It comes as no surprise that the opposing sides would present different versions of the situation, but the massive gap between those differing versions, as well as some of the more subtle hints they contained, offered new clues about the unfolding conflicts.