IRAN : STATUS OF OPPOSITION GROUPS

Created: 4/1/1985

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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Vlncfnt Cannistraro

Director of Intelligence Program*;

national Security Council

Attachedhe iiemrandtrrn youIranlpn opposition. ope you findthe Otherent you useful. Ifbe!ould be happy toChief ofthe

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Chief,

RPPROWtD FOB RdtAStUG HD2

senior political analyst on iran tune down and talk! with you about Iranian natters. This would need to be done quickly, however, as they both will be leaving in mid-April forTBT toi the Middle East.

D RCCJrORATE OF5

I RAM: STATUS OF OPPOSITIO" GMBK

The Khonwlnl regit* Is facing Us greatest challenges since securing control of Iran. Factionalism within the reglte, dwindling oilnd the recrntsetbacks are causing Increased domestic tnreit. nonetheless,pponents of thewithin and outsideto lack sufficient strength to exploit the regit*'s problem. Opposition groups Inside Iran renin on the defensive because of harsh government repression, Reglte opponentsxile htwe little support In Iran and continue fco bicker taong thearselves. Rather than opposition groups, we believe factions within the regit*etter chance of gaining control and altering

Iranian policies. Iran'sKtMPff probleas and wa--

weariness, however, are creating conditions that couldon-clerical, coalition to coalesce and gainupport.

are

both

long-running power struggles within theregit* arebecause of the Ayatollahfs falling health and because the regi

serious problem with the eeohowy andhe war with Iraq.

1^

KCT FROM ItWl'l

" tower oil revenues and low foreign exchanon reservesovernment fro* relying, on Imports to maintain currentlevtls and to provide iaterlals for oomcstlc Industry.

Economic austerityd ding to domestic unrest and regie*urging the publicower Its

Iron's litestismal failureBoothsreparation.

Iraq appears determined toeightened level ofcilitary pressure on Iran to force It to the negotiating

Tbe regime's efforts to deal with these problem are beinginfighting. Hoderatjes believe that the best way to preserveregie*ran Is toess aggressive foreign policy domestic policies In an effort to deal with economicbelieve Uut any relaxation of revolutionary policies

bact into subservience to thealso end their politicalwhose supporttill critical for any faction's success.to have been tilting away fro* the radicals.

Croups opposed to theoth Inside Iran ondbeen unable to exploit the government's problems, and we believe* wnllkely toant. influence In Iranfter the Ayat'V*a> dies.

leader capable of challenging Khomeini's personal oopes'hat of the Islamic government he symbolizesgroup. The roletrong personality to galvanize popv'"Khomeini did against theconsider*'by most experts on Iran.!

Prominent exiles engage In endlessand posturlne. VrNwjmh someed contacts Inside Iran, there Is lltti-of popular support for anyhem.

Opposition groups active within Iran ar? vVect tosurveillance by therem**"

IrrlUnt ratherignificant threat.

nonetheless, Iran's ecooomlc downturn and pONUr warthat eventually could,unitem**tiheclerical rule. War policy alreadyebated within

of how the day-to-day well-being of the reg'-e's lower classbe affected. Iranian leaders also appear to recognize thatcanroad segment of the popular* to turn The government has poved to placatevat1ve bazaar**arrested dozens of striking workerspes ofopposition labor movement. Although tfceetonorganization ofne newSolidarity Commltte-workers, basedsfahan where Communist Influencesit coordinated strike actions in several clt'esyear, according to theiexHe press.

Opposition Groups In Inn

There ireroups inside Inn In open opposition to the Although all cooperateil In the anti-Shah wveeent ind hoped teroleshe revolutionary government.ave been ex*:clerics end hive turned against the regime. Hecvylzlnq thati threat, Tehran has bruta(lly suppressed them.

htlq. This tslaarfc-elarxlst nationalist groupseveral US advisors in Iran during the revolution. Led by exiledejavl. It posed the aost serious challenge to the KHoaelnlas suppressed Rajavt fled to Francend the statvt o* current Nujahedln leadership In Iran Is unknown. The group had acadre of0 educated urban youths at Its int nVpenetrated the government and the Revolutionary Guar'1. It stillhive several thousand cadre, although weure Is'.

Thehalq has an active propaganda program outsidebeen Involved In the recent resurgence of scattered terroristnd abroad. The group maintains an uneasy alliance through thrCouncil withes1dent? the Kurdish

This flroupeftist offshootas eleen sawnd Hs members are regular targets of reglee repression, 1

Tudeh Coeaejnlst Party. The pro-Sovietefore its leaders were arrested for treason and the party Tudeh had cooperated with the Khomeini regime, hut It also hod penetrated both the government and military. Sow* senior memberswith thewere executed following eaders have not yet been tried. An underground organization nayunctlonran, but the new [party leadershipn exile In Europe.

q. This saiall radical leftistcarries outo' terrorut activityIran ind ibroad. It splitne partwltt the Tudeh Party and the Other reaalnlng active northwestern !rpw ?iong

leadership is unknown.

with dissident Kurds. It has .been repressed by the Khomeinis

[

Kurdish Peaocratlc party', Abdol ftahnan Qasemlu, Its leader,he party0 eeeOersT hutrobably has far fewer thanan. Repeated regime offensives9 have forced the KurdtsN guerrillas Into the nountalns, where theyraq and European socialist groups provide see* aid and then uneasy alliance with thehilq.

Solidarityof Iranian Workers. According to the Iraninn exile press, this group emerged in late ismer'iyipparently coordinated strikesejor urban centers. The exile pressIs aodeled on the Polish Solidarity Union. Ho details are availableits

leadership, enUts, th1<

the.

because of econoaric austerity and war weariness.

The Opposition Outside Iran

I

, but It may be the nucleusabor movement. t Is would be the first internal group to challenge the;sion of thehalq tnd it could attract popular

exiles have been unable either to un'tc or to maintainlinks Into Iran. Bickering among the groupsetltlon forhave diverted their energies. Exiled oppositionists and theiran be divided Into twowho were part of the revolutionary coalition, but lattr ran afoul of the Khomeiniand those who

the revolution. Prominent among the former are:

Exiled leaders who opposed the Islamic Revolution from thelittle support Inside Iran.

Opposition Factions Within the Regime and other interest Groups

The following groups accept. In varying degrees, the principalinfluence in the government. agr*e, however, withof the current regime and are attempting to reshape

believe these groups will play,key roles In the struggle for controland are attempting to exploit current difficulties for ist of hey regime members and their -'filiations 1sthis memorandum.)j

"ode rates within the Beg lee. These clerics, laymen,technocrats believeithat Iran'stheirclerical Involvement In government. They would Hke

proposals for central control of economic activity, Jand reform,he war with Iraq, and limiting foreign contacts to other revolutionary regimes. We believe the moderates probably are strong enough inelected Consultative Assembly to sidetrack radical programs. Kereov",recently have been strengthened by support from Khomeini In hisn domestic legislation and foreign policy.

Conservatives Outside the Regime. This faction i% dominated byseniorlerics who are strongly opposed to close Identificationlergy with the government. They would like to rrrhK" the day-to-cVv political role of clerics and ftsclnd radical foreign and domestic "V'c'es. Of the four senior clerics who.have most strongly criticized thetwo recently died. Two other senlgr clerics sometimes cooperate withbecause theywith their moderateaffect th*to ' |

Military. The regime has repeatedly uncover*', coup plots and ejmtvMM* th* armed forces, but still suspects their loyalty. The ubiquity ofadvisors and Informers reduces: the possibility of effective Indepenrw political activity by the military or actionf of an exileoderate and conservative elerfes have cultivated contacts within th*and paramilitary forces and would attempt to use these links to gal-supporthe power struggle among regimebecomes violent.

Revolutionary GuardRadical Lay Technocrats. an important role in the KhoaeiniRYglme concern aboutof the Guardeflectedhomeini's adi-onltlons that 1tpolitics. Oesplte these warnings, factions within the regime haveamong Revolutionary Guard units in anticipation of futureGuard officers and radical lay technocrats are opportunistsslamic and probably resent the prominence of the clerics. probably hope eventually to oust the clericsavor of aby "progressive' lay;groups.

scentt

Tnet cohesiveappears to h*less ami fled then In thexperienced Guard officers are dls'Vys'o-wi and several sources have reported that the Guardosing aenevels. These trends probably will be strengthened by Iran'st.all the forces cceaaltted to the attack were Revolutionary Ow** we believe they comprised overercent of the casualties. There Is an alternative, although less likely, possibility that the recent losses tM other government actions Uniting Guard prerogatives could spur Guard unity againstclerical regime. If elements ofthey wouldyer In the Iranian power struggle. the Guard help overthrow clerical rule. It would be unlikely to support moderate policies that would be more favorable to US Interests.

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