In the coming days, weeks, and months there will be a narrative forming about how Rouhani & his cabinet weren't happy with how things were handled, but ultimately were hamstrung due to security establishment pressure at home and US aggression from outside
This insider-agonist narrative will lament the loss of life and property, and will even level veiled criticisms at state repression and heavy-handedness. But, crucially, it will fall short of resignations or outright statements of protests to said repression because the public's interests, it will be argued, simply won't be served by such acts. "Sure, the internet was turned off and people were beaten, killed, maimed, arrested, etc. All true. But what's a government not actually in charge of security matters to do? Our hands were tied."
"Plus, these nezam devotees will implore, the heightened level of paranoia of the deep-state isn't entirely unwarranted given US-Saudi-Israeli-FDD-MEK-Pahlavi-+ all-out drive for regime change. What do you expect we do in this environment? The alternatives were far worse."
For 20 years (since summer 1999 student unrests), a version of this insider-agonist narrative has been parroted about as justification for inaction, unaccountability, and the urgency of continued faith in gradual reforms. For 20 years: "keep the faith & what's the alternative?"
Tellingly, the intensity of this narrative has been inversely proportional to the number of insider-agonists parroting it about. More and more of them have either been driven out of the country, banned from public gatherings, put under house arrest, or indefinitely imprisoned.
There was some hope in 2015 that the nuclear deal had at last vindicated this narrative, and that domestic reforms could be rolled out after the easing of tensions with the West. But Trump's election and Raisi's challenge restored the narrative even more intensely.
It must be noted that under Rouhani there's even less of an attempt to sustain the narrative on the promise of reforms, since he's never been a self-proclaimed reformist. His campaign promise of "prudence & hope" was simply about being a steady placeholder.
In light of this 20-yr history, the crucial question to ask is this: why should the purveyors of this narrative any longer bother to frame it in terms of reforms or gradual change, when it's just about preserving the stability of a repressive political system (nezam)?
Now that the internet can literally be turned off at the flip of a switch and vicious punishment meted out under the dark veil of the security establishment (made up of the military-intelligence tutors of Assad, no less), why not simply admit that it will always be thus?
Sure, Trump's policy on Iran is vulgar, vacuous, and vicious - and it's added its share to Iranians' daily problems. But let's be clear about a 40-yr reality, too: for reasons internal, no elected IRI government has ever had the power to address the Iranian public's problems.