Are the protests in Iran fuelled by a Western conspiracy?

Over the last four years, Iran has been jolted by political tremors at increasing frequency.

Starting with what came to be known as the 'Bloody Aban' insurrection, a nationwide civic rights protest in late November 2019, initially against rising fuel costs, but which later turned into anti-regime protests.

The protests were followed by the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in 2020 by American forces, which led the country to the brink of war with the US. But it was the more recent killing of Mahsa Amini that has triggered what have arguably been the most significant anti-regime protests witnessed in Iran in recent years.

Some may argue that the recent demonstrations are not as wide scale as the 2019 protests. However, the impact of Amini's killing on a global scale, particularly among the Iranian diaspora in the West, is undoubtedly bigger and fiercer than the Bloody Aban protests.

Friction pours out of Iran

For one, Amini's killing has seemingly exacerbated the polarisation between pro- and anti-regime Iranians, with the conflict between these two groups becoming even more visible among the diaspora in the West.

On September 25, 2022, anti-regime protesters turned violent and tried to attack the Iranian embassy in London. The riot police eventually dispersed the protesters and cleared the area. The dispersed mob then marched from the embassy to the location of the annual Arbaeen procession (an approximately 2km distance) and clashed with the procession's attendees.

More tragically, the same mob later attacked the Islamic Centre of England, a Shi'a religious centre known for its close affiliation with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Similar incidents were also reported in other European countries such as Germany, where at least three people were injured in a clash during a vigil.

While one understands that the aggression on display at some of these protests is rooted in decades of political suffocation and subjugation, there should be no defence for thuggery and violence against ordinary people such as clashing with attendees at an Arbaeen procession that is attended by Shia Muslims from various nationalities, many of whom may have no political association with Iran.

The foreign conspiracy narrative

On the other hand, a group within the pro-regime supporters in the diaspora also echoes the regime's narrative regarding the protests as being planned by 'America and the Zionist regime'.

The Iranian interior minister has yet again...

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