IRAN: REVOLUTIONARY DYNAMICS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD THE US HOSTAGES

Created: 9/22/1980

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

DYNAMICS AND ATTITUDES

THE US HOSTAGES

Ayatollah Khomeini often complaint about factionalism, but his apparent efforts to maintain equilibrium among the groups supporting him have caused continued disarray.

Revolutionary Politics

The struggle for power at the national and local levels hasentral feature of the Khomeini regime since it took power in Groups and individuals, often self-appointed, appeared at every center of power determined to exploit the political vacuum to root out the remnants of the Shah's regime, settle old grudges, and

were able quickly to seize the initiative and deny pro-Khomeini feces' control in much of thd Iranian periphery. Arrogant self-styled revolutionary committees and courts operated outside of Tehran under llttlo or no control from Khomeini or his lieutenants.

Ayatollah Khomeini has repcatodly complained that factionalism can alienate the people and open opportunities for "enemies of the revolution." lie has even spoken about clerical malfeasance.

Tho regime has only recently begun to have theneeded to begin forcing out elements in localthat it cannot control and ic is not at all certain that it will be able to effectively remove its rivals in the provinces.

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Khomeini's interventions have produced severalthe primary rivalry between the several clericalthe secular moderates, but the stakes aro too highplayers to yive in. The various factions want toupper hand before Khomeini, who does not now havemedical problems, dios suddenly from aor becomes incapable of acting as theof the

Khomeini himsolf seems to want to maintain someamong tho factions that support him. (He wants other groups, like the leftist Fedayeen and Mujahedin as well as minority leaders who do not support the Islamic Republic eliminated.) lie seems to realize that no single group is now capable of making the revolution work and, in any case, would see the loaders of any group that seems to be developing that abilityhreat to his own preeminence. He sets the tone, but avoids specifics, thereby encouraging various responses to his remarks that he may use to gauge predominant themes in public opinion.

Secular and clerical hardliners such as Rajai, Farsi, Ayat, Khoeini, and Montazeri provide the unswerving Islamic character that Khomeini sees as essential for the republic. Manipulators such as Behcshti, Rafsanjani, and Khamenei make the system work in an Islamic framework. Secular modfiratos including Dani-Sadr, Oazargan, and others bringractical knowledgo to tho service of the republic.

ature political system, Khomeini's approach miqht bo effective, but it is creating chaos in Iran. Many Iranians believe they aro stillransition stage from the Shah's regime, and that problems result from the remnants of that ern or from the machinations of rival factions or foreign intervention. Consequently, Iran's basic problems are not adcressed directly or on their merits. This approach leads to erratic, contradictory, and inconsistent policy guidelines. Assuming responsibility for problem solving increasesvulnerabilityonsensus has been hammered out in advance; compromise on many issues is defined as anti-

svs am that leaves the moderates always

tho defensive.

Tho Military

Extensive purges over the past nineteen months have depleted the officer corps and reached into the lower ranks. The loyalty of experienced officers has been questioned. Capable individuals at any leveloworful incentive

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to avoid responsibility. Morale has plummeted with the constant purges, inefficient leadership, clerical meddling, and thefforts to control dissident minorities by force.

The rivalry between the Army and the pro-KhomeiniGuard has further debilitated the ground forces. The Guard, although now reported to have0 members, is still not an effective fighting force. It is also said to bo deeply factionalized by loyalties to rival political interests.

It is unlikely that the threat from Iraq will alter the hardliners' belief that the Iranian military coulderious threat to the revolution and that it must be replacedeliable armed force. Tho discovery this summergt reinforced fear of the Army's political potential.

The Economy

Confusion ever guidelines, mismanagement or no inefficiency, and purges of knowledgeable employees have crippled the Iranian economy. Some entrepreneurs are making good profits amid che chaos, but their good fortune is temporary and atypical. Persistent rumors suggest that there may bo significantplundering of tho treasury.

Nineteen months after the revolution, Iran lacks budgetary planning and regulation. An emergency budgetanticipated shortfalls in revenuo was scheduled for June, but has yet to appear. For, Iran has been operating under anillion budget that originally envisioned oil rovonuesillioneficit6 billion. Because of the sharp drop in oil. exports due to high Iranian oil prices, estimates of oil income for the fiscal year now totalillion.

Calls by the head of the Plan and Budget Organization for further spending cuts and increased non-oil income have gone unheeded. Continued government deficits are apparently being financod by massive borrowing from the Central Bank-ultimately contributing to tho disappearance of loanable funds from public banks and to heavy inflationary pressures. The blockage of Iranian funds abroad has forestalled any attempt to cover the deficit by drawing on those assets.

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Iranian inefficiency has produced massive back-upsat border crossing-points; dissident Kurds remainagain interdict road and rail links to Turkey. Thesuffers from internal distribution problems andlevel of unemployment iswe lackdata neededumericalthethese people partly through sales of In addition, many businesses have been forcedtheir employees even if they produce nothing.

Prime Minister Pajai has admitted that development projects desired by local populations cannot be initiated If funds are not available. But the regime has been generally able to provide the daily needs of the people and to complete simple development projects in en effort to maintain the people's goodwill and to indicate that present hardships are not only temporary but caused by anti-revolutionary interests.

The capriciousness and inefficiency of the revolutionary organizations haveide rango of the populace and have created disenchantment with national and local leaders. There has been no backlash against Khomeini and none is likely, lie has been able to put himself on the side of the people with his constant demands that secular and clerical officials Jo something to help the Iranian people.

Host Iranians in the lower classes, who form the base of Khomeini's support, seen to believe that current inconveniences and irritations aro temporary or tho fault of others and con be tolerated or reduced by removing anti-revolutionaries. There have been no major strikes or protost marches, Western diplomats who have recently left Iran, however, report that tho populace is becoming more aware of the nation's political and economic problems.

From Khomeini's Viewpoint *

Clerical and secular moderates hi.ve failed to convince Khomeinioderatelimited contacts with thenecessary while the Islamic Republic is being stabilized. Khomeini may believe that the problems caused by the US responses to the hostage seizure are acceptable tests of the people's revolutionary fibre. Khomeini probably does not view the state of the economyhreat to his regime, he wants to lay the groundworkundamentally different, self-sufficient simple economy emphasizing agriculture not oil or modern industry.

Tlie Hostage Issue

We have not believed that Khomeini has everard and fast idea of what the US could do to secure the release of tho hostages. His statoment oneptember may have been intended to provide minimal guidelines to speed Assembly consideration of the hostages rather than to define the terms o( ita final decision. Two senior ayatollahs, Marashi-Najafi and Golpayegani, has just asked Khomeini to intervene again to stop tho rivalries that paralyze tho regime and the Assembly itself had asked for guidance -on the hostage debate. [ |

The hostage issue may have been kept at the beginning of the Assembly agenda, despite some hardliners* indications that other issues would take precedence, because thereeneral perception that no substantive problem could be addressed without dragging in theandof tha US in Iranian affairs.

Nonetheless, Khomeini'sdraftedommittee of histhat there hasecision to do something to try to Change the situation. The newspaper of the hardline clorical Islamic Republic Party has characterized the process as "movement toward establishing clear conditions for the release of the hostages in accordance with our Islamic revolution's interests." Consequently, the statement probably should be viewedtrial balloon to determine exactly what would be required by Khomeini'sbefore he could approve negotiations for the hostages' release. Theitobviously be an emotionally laden, politically tricky exercise. Any actempt by the US to negotiateonsensus emerges from the Assembly debate probably would be viewed as an effort to manipulate its outcome.

Moderates in the Assembly have seised the opportunity toragmatic resolution to the problem, Bani-Sadr and Ghotbzadch are again implying that they may bo able toolution. Tho moderates so far have not generated momentumolution. Initial Assembly sessions have been Acrimonious. Numerous speakers have called forSetailed review of US activities in Iran, and tho return of tho blocked funds as well as the Shah'sis given an unrealistically high valuation. Most members' statements are aimed at protecting their own revolutionary credentials; few are willing to speak in favor

of moderation. Those who do will* probably have to ansverfor their "softness."

Therehance that the debate will prove cathartic and the Assembly will be willing to moderate its conditions after venting its frustrations. Without public or private interventions by Khomeini, however, the debate could be prolonged; the Assejobiv may be incapable of reaching aon its own.

Indicators of Iranian Intentions

Specific Iranian intentions are likely to remain essentially unproditable and their course erratic, but there are some indicators that may shed light on whether thereonsensus is developing on key issues. The names and timing for the selection of the remaining cabinet members will shed light on the ability of the major factions to cooperate. The ability of the Assembly to address the hostage problem and whether other matters are included on the agenda with it may indicate what, if any, relationship tho Iranian leaders see between the hostage issuo'and their other problems. Of immediate interest, of course, will be the Identities of tho members chosen for the Assembly's hostage committee and theof reference" given them by the Assembly, aa well as any further public comment by Khomeini.

Major Iraqi incursions into Iranian territory and/or obvious Iranian inability to deny Iraq control of navigation in the Shatt al-Arab, as well as any aerioua shortfall* in heating fuels and food supplies in tho approaching cold weather will put additional pressures on the Khomeini regime.

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