With open confrontation between rival factions, regime's internal crisis enters new stage at highest level

With the arrest of Gholam Hossein Karbastchi, the mayor of Tehran, and the strong objection of the cabinet, a new round begins in the clerical regime's internal crises. For the first time, the confrontation between rival factions becomes public at the highest level.

The strongly-worded comments by Ata'ollah Mohajerani, the government spokesman, after a five-hour cabinet meeting, presided over by Khatami, about Karbastchi's arrest demonstrate the unprecedented dimensions of the biggest public political feuding among the mullahs. Mohajerani reiterated that "Karbastchi is still the mayor of Tehran" and that "the violations of the Judicial Branch must be examined." These comments follow intensive efforts, including numerous contacts with Khamenei, by Khatami and his faction to secure Karbastchi's release.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Justice, which is under Khamenei's influence, formally defended Karbastchi's arrest. Mohseni, acting head of the Special Judicial Department for Offenses by Government Employees, stressed that the law of "increasing the punishment of bribery, embezzlement and fraud" necessitated Karbastchi's arrest.

By arresting and prosecuting Tehran's mayor, Khamenei's faction is intent on delivering a major blow to the rival faction. For its part, by securing Karbastchi's release and portraying him as a hero, Khatami is trying to ultimately undermine the Judiciary which is headed by Mohammad Yazdi, Khamenei's staunchest backer.

Which ever way these developments turn, the escalation of the power struggle within the regime and the open confrontation among rival factions will seriously weaken the regime and expedite its inevitable overthrow.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
April 6, 1998

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