With its flames declining after days of high blaze, the “events” that shook Iran in December and early January are still attracting a tsunami of comment, speculation and, as always in such cases, misrepresentation.
The first question is what should we call what happened.
The term “events” is too anodyne and the term “revolution” too hyperbolic to do the job. The Khomeinist leadership in Tehran started by using the term “disturbances” (“eghteshashat”) as if we were dealing with a stampede in a bazaar or a crowd crash in a Spanish bullfight arena. When it became clear that “disturbances” in some 100 cities couldn’t be dismissed in so cavalier a manner, the Khomeinist authorities went for their fallback position of blaming foreign conspirators for the whole thing.
Thus, state propaganda gave us the term “conspiracy” (“to-teheh”) with a colorful cast of characters supposedly involved. These included US President Donald Trump, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Barzani clique in Iraqi Kurdistan, a brother-in-law of Saddam Hussein, a cousin of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and a retired CIA spook converted to the “wrong kind of Islam”.
Within days, however, the Khomeinist tune had become laughable.