The late Charles Douglas-Home, editor of The Times, once asked me, in 1983: ‘How long before a restoration in Iran?’ He had hired me to be his Iran expert. I replied: ‘Not long now. Perhaps inside ten years. Khomeini has been a total failure, much more repressive than the shah and totally incompetent. The economy has collapsed and thousands of villages along the western border lie in ruins as a result of Iraq’s invasion.’ That was only four years after the revolution that had substituted the mullahs for the monarch and, rightly, I did not convince my boss. He thought it could take thirty years. Needless to say, the ‘expert’, even more than the outsider, underestimated the ruthlessness of the mullahs.