August 21, 2012:
The government has another internal public relations disaster on its hand. Two recent (August 11) earthquakes in the northwest (near the Azerbaijan and Armenian borders) left over 300 dead and over 3,000 wounded. The government relief effort was not what people expected and blaming it all on Israel only increased the popular anger.
The government announced several new military technologies created by Iranian research organizations. Except for a new ship engine, all the new items were electronic devices that Iran has a hard time obtaining because of the arms embargo. Most of this stuff isn't very high-tech but these announcements are considered important for domestic morale.
Iranians need some good news because all they are getting from their government is more corruption and mismanagement. Inflation continues to climb, along with unemployment and shortages. Blaming it all on Israel and the West no longer sounds very convincing. The government appears more interested in propping up a dictator in Syria than in dealing with the problems most Iranians are enduring. Stories about Iranian "security experts" forming pro-government militias in Syria has a familiar ring to it for most Iranians. The government uses groups of paid "volunteers" in civilian clothes to attack Iranians suspected of disloyalty. Apparently that technique is being exported to Syria, along with billions of dollars that Iranians could use.
While there is much discussion in state-controlled media about the threat of Israeli or American air-strikes, those two countries have already carried out damaging attacks and continue to do so, via the Internet. These are the multiple Internet based attacks made against Iran for several years now. These attacks appear to be ongoing and account, for example, for the recent prosecution of several major banks for illegally helping Iran with moving money through the international banking system (for over a decade in some cases). Some of the banks, like the British Standard Chartered, initially denied involvement. But after being shown detailed evidence changed their tune, paid a large fine, and agreed to closer monitoring of their internal operations. This was all made possible by the Duqu, Flame, and Gauss software that had been secretly collecting information from PCs involved in the clandestine Iranian smuggling and banking activities. This snooping also uncovered details (like the names of local banks and officials and specific incidents of misbehavior) of money laundering and smuggling assistance Iran has been receiving from neighboring countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Armenia). Many of these allegations are detailed enough to scare the neighbors into backing away from their illegal deals. This has not shut down these operations, mainly because there is so much corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan that someone else can always be found, for the moment, to continue helping Iran. But the price of these services is growing and the American/Israeli software spies are a major bother.
It's not just inside Iran that the Internet spying is hurting. More and more Iranian smugglers outside Iran are suddenly being arrested and charged (often in great detail) with smuggling items needed for Iranian nuclear and weapons programs. Iran does have some powerful friends (like Russia) that can put up more of a fight against the new sanctions and Internet espionage. But the Russians can find their own banking and trading activities under attack if they go too far to aid Iran. At the moment the Russians are under pressure to stop allowing Iranian oil tankers to travel under Russian registration and obtaining insurance from Russian firms.
Over the last few months the government has warned Iranians to brace themselves for a massive Cyber War attack by the U.S., Britain, and Israel. Two months ago the U.S. admitted that several successful Cyber War attacks on Iraq (Stuxnet, Duqu and, Flame) were indeed the product of a joint American-Israeli effort. Iran always includes Britain in these foreign conspiracies because Britain has been successfully interfering with Iranian diplomacy for several centuries and is greatly resented for this. But this is all apparently coming from the U.S. and Israel and the program is huge, with many of these secret software programs (Gauss being the latest to be discovered) still not known to the Iranians. When these programs are discovered, the investigation usually reveals that the stuff has been active for several years. This has been a major defeat for Iran, which had operated a successful smuggling and money laundering program for decades because of their ability to keep the details secret. Much of that secrecy is now gone because of the American/Israeli Internet espionage/sabotage campaign.
August 20, 2012: The government announced a major effort to reduce the growing dominance of women at universities. Currently 60 percent of university students are women and the females outperform their male counterparts. To deal with this, women will be barred from many majors and most universities will be forced to hold separate classes for men and women. The government wants fewer women in universities and is trying to persuade women to have more children. The government also wants fewer urban reform activists. Many of these are university students and more than half are women. Decades of living under a religious dictatorship has produced rising unemployment and less optimism among most Iranians. That has led to a plunging birth rate. The government is ignoring its role in all these problems, mainly because the ruling clerics see themselves as on a Mission From God.
August 10, 2012: an American official revealed that the U.S. had spies inside the Iranian nuclear program, as well as electronic snooping programs.