Nourooz or the New Year in Iran, one of the happiest occasions in the annual calendar, is annually celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring.
This 13-day national celebration dates back to pre-Islamic times in Iran and, no matter which government is ruling, Nourooz is always observed in the home of every Iranian family.
Usually, the newspapers don’t appear during this major national festivity. No-one really cares that much about what’s going on, unless there’s a state of emergency, as was the case during Nourooz in 1987.
That was when Tehran was suffering from the heaviest of Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks and my family took shelter with some relatives living outside Tehran for a few days.
Shortly after that, the war ended and Ayatollah Khomeini accepted the UN resolution and the ceasefire. At that time, Iran was very isolated; it could only count a few countries among its friends.
Abandoned even by their own neighbours, Iranians realised that they must become powerful in order to protect themselves in future.
We have celebrated Nourooz 32 times since Iran’s Islamic Revolution and we can say that Iran is now in its best-ever position since 1979.
The changes and uprisings in other Arab and Muslim countries mean that the Iranian regime has made friends with other nations, so the country is now less isolated.
Since the Iraq-Iran War, the policies of some Arab nations towards Iran have hardly changed. Iranian rulers have done everything to break this icy wall between themselves and these other nations, but have achieved little.
Iran is always blamed for supporting Hizbullah and Hamas and interfering in Arab affairs.
As Iran has become more powerful, the fears have increased among some Arab leaders that the country might one day become a major threat to them. They mostly rely on their Western allies for protection, distancing themselves from their Shia neighbour, Iran.
But what they have been doing is wrong. Amazingly, two of Iran’s biggest enemies, Iraq and Afghanistan, are now the region’s most trusted friends.
The governments of these two countries, liberated by the US and its allies and still receiving US aid, don’t publicly admit how close they are to Iran.
If the revolutions succeed in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, as has happened in Egypt, the coming year looks very rosy for the regime in Iran.
*Published in the EGYPTIAN GAZETTE on Mar. 30, 2011.