A continuing spiral of violence is hindering Iran's second attempt within two months -- following the killings of prominent leaders -- to swiftly revert back to day-to-day affairs.
In the Iranian capital alone, 12 Revolutionary Guards -- the sole military force trusted by Iran's fundamentalist leadership -- are estimated to be either wounded or killed each day in precise, well-executed guerrilla attacks.
These observers say the Revolutionary Guards are in desperate need of new recruits. Radio Tehran urged volunteers Sept. 2 to join the force's training program. Some sources claim to have heard the radio in an earlier broadcast requesting Revolutionary Guards to interrupt their "vacations" and return to active duty.
Clashes between left-wing Islamic Mujahideen-e Khalq guerrillas and Revolutionary Guards are frequent and bloody. Radio Tehran reported a gunfight Sept. 3 in which one guard and three guerrillas were killed.
Revolutionary Guards and Mujahideen guerrillas fought an 8-hour battle Sept. 2 in southeast Tehran -- described by Radio Tehran as "one of the most important operations against the counterrevolutionaries." Seven people were killed. The radio went on to say that detailed plans of the prime minister's office have been found in the raided guerrilla hideout.
A similar confrontation took place two weeks ago. A handful of Mujahideen held out against 500 Revolutionary Guards for seven hours. An antitank missile fired point-blank at the windows of the besieged house finally ended the battle. Tehran residents recall that suddenly the streets were emptied of Revolutionary Guards, komiteh officials, and policemen -- a possible indication of a shortage of trusted armed personnel.
The immediate appointment Sept. 2 of Minister of the Interior Muhammed Reza Mahdavi-Kani as prime minister, the approval of his Cabinet by the Majlis (parliament) Sept. 3, and Mahdavi-Kani's announcement that presidential elections would be held within the constitutionally mandated 50 days, are all meant to ease the tensions.
The new premier promised that his government would restor internal security and deal with the armed opposition. Mahdavi-Kani announced changes within the paramilitary organizations and the police -- forces criticized for inefficiency after the June 28 bombing of the Islamic Republic Party headquarters in Tehran.