The Spring equinox on March 20th marked Nowruz, the Persian New Year in Iran, which dates over 3,000 years to the time of ancient Persia (IranWire). Nowruz, which has over 20 different spellings, is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iraq and other countries.
Here's a holiday that's perfect for Americans (New York Times).
Want to know what it's like celebrating Nowruz in Iran? (Roads & Kingdoms)
Iran’s supreme leader delivered his annual Nowruz message (Reuters). Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged President Hassan Rouhani’s progress in opening the economy after signing the nuclear deal. However, he also said the president’s efforts to open the economy to international markets had fallen short. The supreme leader named 1396 the “year of the economy of resistance: production and employment,” expressing hope it will be “accompanied by security and welfare.”
According to the Statistical Center of Iran, unemployment is at 12.4 percent, up 1.4 percent from the previous year. That means 3.2 million out of 80 million Iranians are jobless. As a result, gloom surrounds Rouhani’s budget for new Iranian year (Al-Monitor).
Khamenei also warned that he would confront any interference in this May’s presidential election (VOA). The supreme leader said, “I will confront anyone who wants to tamper with the results of the people's vote. In previous years and previous elections... it was the same. Some of it was in front of people's eyes and they became aware of it. And some of it they were not aware of but I was informed about it.” He then added, “It was revealed in 2009—they came out and drew battle lines. And in other years in other ways, but in all these years I stood against them and said whatever the results of the election are, they must be carried out.”
In 2009, presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi claimed election fraud, which marked the post-election protests known as the Green Movement. Both are currently under house arrest since 2011, including Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard.
Can Iran's conservatives agree on candidate for upcoming vote? (Al-Monitor)
Iran is one country where hardliners might not be poised for election success (Los Angeles Times).
Evolution, not a new revolution, in Iran (National Interest).