Clerical regime's internal crisis takes on violent hue

The menacing letter by the Revolutionary Guards' top brass to mullahs' President Mohammad Khatami has exacerbated the crisis within the clerical regime to an unprecedented level, giving it a distinctly violent hue as the rival factions openly talk about "coups", "purges" and "bloodshed". The trend of events confirms that the infighting is moving towards an inevitable showdown:

1. The publication of Guards commanders' letter on Khamenei's orders has frightened Khatami's faction to the extent that groups in this faction wrote that "we were shaken by the letter, fearing the future of the revolution, the regime and the country." (statement of the Combatant Clergy Association). They emphasized Khatami's allegiance to the principle of "velayat-e faqih" - supreme rule of the clergy- "which is the leitmotif of constitution of the Islamic Republic and the axis of our state," reminding the "beloved commanders of the Revolutionary Guards" that they "must have full confidence in the honorable President" in "defending this pillar of the state."

2. Different groups within the Khatami faction have reminded the Guards commanders of Khatami's "services" to "preserving the regime in power." A statement by the "Combatant Clergy Association" - an organization of mullahs, including Khatami, following the "Imam's Line" - reminded the Guards of the "heavy damages" inflicted on the regime by mass uprising of the people of "Mashad, Shiraz, Arak, Qazvin, Kermanshah and more recently Islamshahr on Tehran's suburbs," adding that without Khatami the "cost" of suppressing "a surprise uprising all over Tehran as we witnessed" would have been much more for the clerical regime. The Participation Party of Islamic Iran, whose leaders include Khatami's brother, assured the Guards commanders that Khatami would return to the same old policies after a temporary "cure" of the regime's ailment: "What you witness after (Khatami's election) as social unrest is the side-effect of a cure... and after a period of treatment, the government will return vitality together with respect for the original values of the Islamic Republic to our regime."

3. While Khatami has been obviously weakened in the power balance within the regime, statements issued by various pro-Khatami organizations acknowledge this weakness and stress that the GC commanders' letter to Khatami has been published in order to "announce the Guards Corps' readiness for a coup d'etat and consequently show the Iranian government to be unstable" and "to foment fear and terror and induce a sense of instability and lack of security and to make the President and his government's position appear shaky in the eyes of the world."

4. Pro-Khatami groupings have also warned the Guards Corps of the consequences of a military coup and a bloody clash between the two rival factions. They have stressed: "The Revolutionary Guards' rank and file would not accept such unpatriotic schemes... and would not be taken captive by a bunch of adventurers and violence-prone elements."

5. As the National Council of Resistance stated in its session in April: "Two years into Khatami's presidency, and in the absence of a political solution inside the regime and with the situation spiraling out of control, the conflict between the two factions will have to be settled definitively and violently before the end of Khatami's term in office (in May 2001)."

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
July 22 1999

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