Iran's new prime minister yesterday presented a government of "reconciliation" to give the country's harried leadership an Islamic face-lift and try to stem the tide of opposition violence.
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who named Jaafar Sharif-Emami as prime minister yesterday, said the new government would stress "Islamic principles," It featured several minor concessions to moderates of the powerful Moslem religious opposition.
Diplomatic sources said there are signs that the conciliatory gestures will be accompanied by a hard crackdown on extremist elements in an effort to divide the opposition. And the Shah, still firmly in charge, is evidently not giving up any of his own authority.
Faced with increasingly serious opposition violence for the last eight months, the shah named former senate president Sharif-Emami, 68, to replace Jamshid Amouzegar, 55, who held the post for little more than a year.
Sharif-Emami is known for maintaining contact with the Moslem clerical leadership. His is also considered an able politician who can serve as a compromise figure to appease the moderate political opposition.
The major surprise in the Cabinet switch was the dismissal of veteran Foreign Minister Abbas Ali Khalatbari. He was replaced by Amir Khosrow Afshar, a career diplomat.
Five ministers retained their posts, including Finance Minister Mohammed Yeganeh, who doubles as Iran's chief representative in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and War Minister Gen. Raza Azimi, who has survived several Cabinet shuffles in the past.
Sharif-Emami said the new government would "create an atmosphere of reconciliation among all classes of the people." Warning that "the homeland is in danger," he called on Iranians to rally around the constitution and country under the teachings of Islam.
Among several principles he enunciated were respect for the state Shiite Moslem religion and for the country's Moslem clergy. He also called for free elections, freedom of activity for "legitimate" political parties and a government campaign against "corruption and exploitation."
In a meeting with the new officials, the shah said, "The grandeur of Islamic principles should get top priority."
The first act of the new government was, symbolically, to turn back the clock. In a concession to the Moslem flight to Medina, was restored. It releadership, the Islamic solar calendar, placed the "imperial calendar" that the shah introduced two years ago to underscore the monarchy by marking time in Iran from the coronation of the Persian King Cyrus the Great more than a thousand years earlier.Thus yesterday's morning newspapers were dated with the year 2537, while afternoon papers came out in the year 1357.
In another move to appease moslems, the post of minister of state for women's affairs was abolished.
Diplomatic sources said the concessions might be a step toward appeasing the moderate clergy, but were unlikely to stop violence by more hardline religious elements who want to end the shah's 37-year rule.
According to well-informed diplomats, as the shah offers concessions to the moderates, measures of tough repression appear to be in the works for the radicals. Already, they say, some of the extremist Moslem prayer leaders are being rounded up or exiled to remote parts of the country and future violence is likely to be met with more force than at present.
In one sign that a tougher line is in the offing, the hard-nosed chief of the National Gendarmerie, the country's regional police force, Gen, Abbas Gharabaghi, was named as minister of the interior.