While ‘August 22 mania’ is picking up some steam out here in cyberspace, Brian Whitaker of The Guardian is skeptical about the significance of the August 22 date for Iran’s response to the West on anti-nuke incentives:

[W]hy, exactly, did the Iranians choose August 22 as the date for giving their answer to the US about nuclear development? Probably for bureaucratic convenience. When they promised a reply “by the end of August”, they didn’t actually use the word “August”, but the Iranian equivalent. If you look up the Persian calendar, you’ll see that August 22 just happens to be the end of the month known as Mordad.

I don’t suppose this will discourage the neocons from continuing to write such loopy, prophetic nonsense. Here’s another of them, Michael Ledeen, formerly a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, and the Iraq-Niger yellowcake affair, predicting an Iranian nuclear test by November 5:

“The Iranians believe they now have all the necessary components for a nuclear bomb. The only question is how long it will take them to assemble and test it. Khamenei had hoped to be able to test an atomic bomb by the third week in October, but his scientific advisers recently told him they could not make that deadline. They are now aiming for November 4 or 5, the anniversary of the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran during the revolution.

“There is another November date our leaders should take seriously: the 25th, the anniversary of the disappearance of the twelfth imam, and thus the most significant date in the Shiite calendar. Reports from Tehran suggest that the mullahs would like to celebrate that anniversary with a big-time terrorist attack against America.”

Utter tosh. Don’t believe a word of it. Ledeen was not talking about this coming November, but November 2003. His original article is here.

Whitaker’s piece is here. I don’t think one needs to be a neocon or an apocalypse fanatic to wonder whether a religiously-motivated man might see his future in the stars rather than in the protocols of international diplomacy — but since Iran uses the Persian calendar, it does call into question whether August 22 has the significance that has been claimed for it.

It is interesting to note, however, that the Persian calendar differs from the Islamic calendar in that it counts solar rather than lunar years, but that both calendars count years from the year of Mohammad’s emigration to Medina. The Persian calendar is, in effect, a variety of Islamic calendar. Also, Afghanistan has, like Iran, generally used the Persian calendar, except during from 1999-2002, when Taliban power was at its height. Although the Shi’ites of Iran have never cared much for the Pushtun fundamentalists who run the Taliban, it does not follow that an exceptionally dedicated Shi’ite in Iran would not also, like the Taliban leaders, take an occasional look at the Islamic calendar. It’s not that unusual for an American Jew, whose public life is governed by the Gregorian calendar, to note significant dates within the Jewish calendar.  Who knows?