Relative calm prevailed in Iran's cities over the weekend, with the government's granting of a three-day grace period allowing unimpeded political demonstrations, since extended indefinitely. How much longer bloodshed can be avoided remains a big question, however.

Moslem leader Ayatollah Khomaini, who returned to Iran last Thursday, reportedly has set up a secret revolutionary council to direct his activities on home soil. But he has postponed his earlier intention to name a full revolutionary government to directly challenge the regime of Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar.

The Ayatollah's caution will allow more time for political maneuvering and secret discussions between the two rival sides. Even more critical, it gives the military additional time to assess the relative strengths of the two leaders, Bakhtiar and Khornaini.

One thing is for certain. If the powerful military elects to continue supporting the Prime Minister while at the same time Khornaini decides to declare a Moslem Jihad (holy war) against the government and the exiled, but not yet overthrown Shah, there could be a bloody civil war of frightening proportions. Hell knows no fury, to use an old phrase, like millions of Moslems intent upon gaining their "eternal reward" through sacrifice in a jihad.

In a civil war Iran would be ripped asunder, with enormous economic consequences to the Western world. With the recent glut of oil in the world, the impact of Iran's internal strife, including a two-month long general strike, has yet to be really felt. But the situation will be different in another three to four months, at the latest. U.S. officials have openly discussed a series of future options from a cutback in service stations hours to rationing.

Even if Khomaini wins out without a civil war that destroys Iran's economy, a future Iran of his design would be of little help to the industrialized West. A spokesman for the Ayatollah remarked on February 4 that Iran should cut back 60% on its oil production and encourage prices to rise still further. Massive oil revenues on the scale of recent years are simply not needed for the more austere budgets of a Khomaini-style "Islamic Republic." A 60% cutback would mean that oil production would fall from a pre-trouble level of 6 million barrels of crude oil a day to 2.4 million, with 750,000 barrels of this shrunken amount used for domestic needs. Long lines at our service stations in a few months seem more of a likelihood.

—Gene Hogberg, News Bureau

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Pastor General's ReportFebruary 05, 1979Vol 3 No. 3