Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Council for the Discernment of the State Exigencies, met yesterday with graduates of a special training course for intelligence and security agents of the Bassij. Welcoming that the force was being better armed and equipped, he emphasized: "Experienced and trained Bassij forces have provided a secure protective shield for society."
The arming of the Bassij battalions as well as actions by the mullahs' leader Ali Khamenei and other officials in recent weeks reflect the clerical regime's extreme concern over, and their attempts to stem, the rising tide of popular protests and uprisings, workers' demonstrations and strikes.
The unprecedented escalation of the power struggle among warring factions has extremely weakened the ruling theocracy, rendering it incapable of confronting the explosive state of society. On May 4, some 10,000 residents of southwest Tehran staged an antigovernment protest. Chanting "death to Khamenei, death to Khatami," they clashed with the security forces and destroyed a number of government buildings.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
May 17, 1998