from newsmax: Just days before a date that Mideast observers are worried will trigger cataclysmic events, Iran has launched a series of large-scale military exercises.
State-run television said the exercises will be defensive in nature, would occur in 14 of the country's 30 provinces, and could last as long as five weeks, according to Israelinsider.com.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad singled out Tuesday, Aug. 22 -- originally the date when Iran was expected to respond to U.N. demands for accountability regarding its nuclear plans -- as the date when Iran would respond, hinting that the response would not necessarily be diplomatic.
Bernard Lewish speculated about the significance of the date in the Wall Street Journal: "What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind."
The military exercises, which began Saturday and involve 12 infantry regiments, is called "The Blow of Zolfaghar," in reference to a special double-edge sword that belonged to Imam Ali, one of the most revered figures of Islam for Shiite Muslims. A majority of Iran's 70 million people are Shiite.
Iran has routinely held war games over the past two decades to improve its combat readiness and test locally made equipment such as missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.