Rahim-Safavi, speaking at a conference organized for the "cultural experts" of the IRGC, said, "The goal of soft war is to change the culture, values and beliefs of the youth....Our weakness is in this very issue of culture, which our enemies have identified before we did. Therefore we must battle against and overcome the attacking culture with our soft and cultural power."
NEW Iran: The Opposition’s Campaign in the US — Sequel With Revelations and A Lesson
NEW Iran: Connecting the Dots — 5 Signs of Regime Trouble
NEW Iran Letter: “I Am Still Alive to Tell the Story” (Shams)
Iran Special: Zahra Rahnavard on Women’s Rights and The Green Movement
Iran: The Opposition’s New PR Campaign in the US
Iran Analysis: Rafsanjani’s “Finger in the Dike” Strategy
The Latest from Iran (13 March): Settling In
1830 GMT: Let's Make Up a Cyber-War. More regime propaganda --- the Revolutionary Guard has briefed the Parliament on the nefarious cyber-plot of the opposition around Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, bringing in names like the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and human rights activist Ahmad Batebi. (There's a video as well.)
After the briefing, the head of Parliament's National Security Committee said Human Rights Activists in Iran had fabricated a list of killed protesters and passed it to Mir Hossein Mousavi.
1725 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- One Who Did Not Remain Silent. Emad Bahavar, head of the youth branch of the Freedom Movement of Iran, has been re-arrested.
Bahavar was arrested earlier this year and released after a short period. However, instead of refraining from criticism of the regime, he wrote a long, incisive analysis of "The Hardliners' Project".
On Wednesday, after Bahavar had appeared in court to defend his case, security forces raided his house without a warrant, threatened his family, and confiscated personal possessions. Bahavar was re-arrested when he went to court to protest the illegal behaviour.
1705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The former Chief Executive Officer and founder of Persian Blog, Mehdi Boutorabi has been arrested.
1700 GMT: We've posted an update and an analysis of this weekend's "opposition campaign", which proved to be far less than a campaign, in the US.
1530 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has confirmed that Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh has been released for 15 days on $800,000 bail.
1525 GMT: Really, They Are All US-Sponsored "Cyber-Terrorists". Fars continues the propaganda overload attacking human rights activists with an "analysis" claiming that the Bush Administration and the CIA launched a $400 million campaign in 2006 for a cyber-battle against Iran.
This is a convenient pretext for Fars to lump together all the "bad guys" --- the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, monarchists, Baha'is, and human rights activists --- as traitors. Named groups includes Human Rights Activists in Iran, Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi's Center for Defense of Human Rights, and the Human Rights Committee and the One Million Signatures campaign for women's equality.
1515 GMT: Stopping the Fire Festival. As our readers have noted, the Supreme Leader has turned on one of Iran's national ceremonies, Chaharshanbeh Souri, as an event “void of religious roots and cause of great harm and corruption".
Chaharshanbeh Souri, which takes place on the eve of Iranian New Year, is an ancient Iranian pagan festival with the building of bonfires and symbolic gestures and chants. These summon the fire to burn all sickness and lend its energy to a healthy new year.
1500 GMT: Back from a family break (Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating in Britain) to go on Rafsanjani Watch.
Looks like the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has continued his careful prodding of the Government, this time with attention to state media. He urged Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Seda va Sima) not to operate as “a gang”, warning that it would lose the trust of the public if it did so. He added that IRIB needs to assume a more “national” approach and pay more attention to people.
1145 GMT: Purge the Universities!
Press TV, from Islamic Republic News Agency, reports that up to 130 Iranian members of Parliament have written the Minister responsible for higher education, Kamran Daneshjoo, calling for strict action to be taken against proponents of secularism in universities throughout Iran.
The legislators warned Daneshjou of the activities that were carried out in universities by "certain individuals who are hostile toward the Islamic system". They insisted, "The cultural message of the  Islamic Revolution is the most important topic that university professors and the elite must seek to promote....Activities of individuals, who feel enmity toward the Islamic establishment, are unacceptable. What is more, nowhere in the world are resources and opportunities generously handed out to those who seek to bring down the establishment and the principles that society is governed by."
Of course, the demand of the MPs for "serious and decisive" action against "the enemies of the Islamic establishment," "proponents of secularism," and "those who work to weaken the government" is a political set-up for the regime to get rid of unacceptable professors and limit scholarships and overseas education to only "proper" students. Last week Daneshjoo used a speech to denounce "deviant" academics.
0920 GMT:~Khomeini in the Cold. Looks like the regime is going to continue treating the family of the late Ayatollah Khomeini as too dangerous to acknowledge, given their criticisms of the Government. The memorial service for Khomeini's son Ahmad has been cancelled due to "mausoleum repairs". Most ceremonies at the Khomeini site since June 2009 have been postponed.
0915 GMT: Two Sunday Specials for You. We feature a defiant weblog from released detainee Foad Shams, "I Am Still Alive to Tell the Story", and Mr Verde has an analysis of 5 Signs of Regime Trouble.
0910 GMT: A Lament for the Election. Eshagh Jahangiri, the Minister of Industries and Mines in the Khatami Government, has declared that, after the Presidential vote on June 12, the chances of progress were lost for Iran.
OK, he would say that as he's a reformist, right? Yes, but the location of the criticism...the not-so-reformist Khabar Online.
0900 GMT: No More Satire --- Iran's Changing Flag. Remember a couple of months ago that we posted a comedy story about the apparent changing of the colours in Iran's flag, removing Green for Blue?
Well, look likes we might have to replace our satire warning for a label that this is Very Serious. From Khabar Online:
At the last session of Iran's Guardian Council in the current Iranian year (ends on March 20) held today, the speaker of the entity, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, answered the questions raised by the journalists.
He said that if a trustable evidence is provided on the national flag color change at the recent state ceremonies, the council will probe the issue."
"The rules are transparent on this case and must be abided by all executive bodies. If it's true, those organizations which have committed such act should be questioned," he maintained.
Recently at some ceremonies held by the government, the green stripe on the Iranian flag had changed to blue or black, including one attended by the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staged a in Tehran for the head of the state-funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). At the ceremony in a graphic design behind Ahmadinejad, the green stripe of the country's national flag had turned to blue.
0650 GMT: I thought at one point on Saturday that the main story might be an opposition initiative to sway American opinion, with a purported spokesman for Mehdi Karroubi holding forth to US journalists in a press conference and private talks.
That proved a fizzle, however, as the "former senior aide" primarily offered a distracting thesis of an Ahmadinejad-Khamenei split and got little coverage from a nuclear-focused (obsessed?) US media. The New York Times, for example, prefers a tangential thinkpiece by David Sanger, and The Washington Post is also off on a Tehran and the Bomb story.
Still there's an important lesson for the Green Movement here in the diversion and possibly damage of those claiming to be "spokesmen" for the opposition, when they are in fact expressing primarily personal opinions, and how they could built up as Green representatives by a media started of significant information from inside Iran. We'll have an update later today.
So what were the real stories? Well, there is what appears to be a regime strategy to break the opposition through the "revolving door" of releasing some detainees --- with the threat that they go back to prison if they step out of line --- and taking new prisoners with declarations of terrorists front groups and agents for the US.
On Saturday, a number of high-profile prisoners, notably journalists and the Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, were reportedly freed. At the same time, the campaign to break human rights organisations was declared with the propaganda of media like Fars and Kayhan, with their announcements of dozens of arrests of campaigners linked to the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq and Washington, and the attack on the websites of Human Rights Activists in Iran.
The latest statement from the Revolutionary Court declares that those arrested belong to a group called “Iran Proxy,” which is accused of
“downloading national databases, infiltrating and sabotaging internet sites, resisting government filtering efforts, creating secure spaces for users of internet networks, creating secure telephone lines and data for interviews with Radio Farda, Radio Zamaneh and television networks of Voice of America”. The Court alleges, in a reference to a campaign to distribute anti-filtering software so Iranians can access the Internet, “Members of Iran Proxy in Iran were in receipt of significant salaries in Iran in order to distribute over 70 thousand proxies through the internet.”
Then, however, there is the news of pressure on the Government, not through manufactured rings of secret US-backed agents but through members of Parliament. The story of the battle between the Majlis and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the President's budget and subsidy reform plan seems to have attracted little notice. But, after the President appealed to the Supreme Leader and then gate-crashed the Parliament and still lost the vote on his proposal, it is a sign of Ahmadinejad's authority in jeopardy.