Iran's military government would withdraw its troops from Teheran streets, and declare the capital an open city to avoid possible bloodshed during processions planned for Sunday (10 December).
Iran's military government would withdraw its troops from Teheran streets, and declare the capital an open city to avoid possible bloodshed during processions planned for Sunday (10 December). This prediction came on Friday (8 December) from opposition sources in Teheran. Sunday's processions which were called to coincide with a deep period of Moslem mourning, had long been expected to develop into a massive display of opposition to the Shah.
SYNOPSIS: While central Teheran appeared calm on Thursday (7 December), some observers thought one minor incident could turn Sunday's processions into a major clash with the army. Others thought the announced withdrawal of troops could calm fears and possibly avoid further bloodshed in a city where it has become a persistent feature in the pattern of life. But separate firebomb attacks on a British and a United States diplomat kept troops on the alert before the expected withdrawal announcement. The bombs brought no reported injuries, but aggravated fears that have made many diplomats leave Iran.
One ingredient breeding anxiety about the processions was the religious fervour for the exiled Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Khomeini, a long-time foe of the Shah. Prime Minister Cholamreza Azhari has suggested that the processions, although banned under the existing martial law, would be tolerated unless they turned violent
Crowds gathered on Thursday (9 December) outside Teheran banks to withdraw money to tide them over the four-day religious holiday, traditionally marked by self-flagellation in public, and is the peak of the Shi'ite month of mourning. Opposition leader, Dr Karim Sanjabi, who was released on Thursday (7 December) after a month in detention, said he hoped the processions would pass off peacefully, before describing his detention.
Dr Sanjabi is leader of the National Front, Iran's best organised opposition party. His sudden release from detention was seen as vital to the military government's forming a national government, as the Shah had outlined last month. He demands a government based on the precepts of Islam and democratic principles.