Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi marked the anniversary of the year-long revolution against his rule today by ordering royal family holdings in Iran handed over to the scandal-tained Pahlavi Foundation.
In another decree designed to draw favor from the population demanding an end to his reign, the shah also released 266 more prisoners from a seemingly endless supply in Tehran's jails.
The gestures seemed unlikely to generate much public enthusiasm, however, with most attention by now focused on demands that the 59-yearold monarch abdicate and leave the country. Moreover, the finances of the royal family foundation are the subject of a three-month-old investigation into charges that some of the money was used for private gain.
Faced with the first snow of a hiterto mild winter, Iranians in any case were mostly concerned with the rigors of waiting in long, barely moving lines for gasoline or the kerosene widely used here for cooking and heating homes.
By current Iranian standards, the anniversary was a calm day. A few scattered demonstrations took place in the capital and provinces. The national news agency reported a crowd killed an army officer in Behbahan in the southern oil province of Khuzestan.
There were no reports of trouble from Qom, the holy city where the violence started one year ago in a fusillade by soldiers into a demonstrating mob.
In Tehran, the government of Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and the opposition worried all but aloud about their fears of a coup d'etat by military hard-liners.
However, the only official word about the military was the shah's appointment as ground forces commander of Lt. Gen. Abdol Ali Badrei, a 6-foot-6 loyalist commander of the imperial guard.He replaces Lt. Gen. Gholam Ali Oveissi, who recently left for the United States and resigned amid rumors his presence here might serve as the nucleus for an eventual coup. The ground forces control 220,000 troops.
Bakhtiar, weakened herhaps irrevocably by the refusal of retired Gen. Freydoun Jam to serve as war minister, sought to distract public attention by announcing his government was reviewing billions of dollars worth of planned American arms purchases.
Only four months ago such news would have been considered a sharp change in the shah's priorities. Today it is less a victory of common sense than a matter of necessity in the middle of a strike in the oil fields that provided 90 percent of Iran's foreign exchange.
Karim Sanjabi, president of the National Front opposition, held a news conference to condemn the government headed by Bakhtiar, until recently one of his closest lieutenants.
Attempting to sweep aside Bakhtiar and the shah, the 73-year-old aristocrat constantly invoked the name of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the exiled religious leader who is the driving force behind the opposition.
"Don't ask me about the legalities and constitutionality of issues," he replied to questions. "This country is in the process of revolutionary change and as I have said before revolutionary situations require revolutionary solutions."
Symptomatic of the opposition mood was an apparently planted question about the army, which remains even with many politically unsure draftees restricted to barracks the only functioning institution of the state.
Whatever the National Front may think or say about the military in private, Sanjabi found it politic to insist, "We respect the Iranian army and consider it necessary for the country's defense. We are against those who insult and threaten officers and noncommissioned officers and their families."
In the provinces, some mobs have singled out military families for punishment.
A coup would be yet another in a series of errors imputable to the shah's regime, Sanjabi said, but would not stop the revolution.
Maj. Gen. Manuchehr Khosrowdad, the army aviation commander, told the Paris newspaper Le Figaro while waiting in the place to see the Shah that Bakhtiar would be "digging his own grave" if he let the shah leave the country as planned.
The army will not accept a regime under Bakhtiar or any other National Front leader," he said. "If the shah left, the Communists would take over the country and the army will never accept that."
Whether his views were accepted by his fellow generals, or for that matter by Ardeshir Zahedi, the activist ambassador to the United States, was still unclear. But another indication of military uneasiness was provided by Gen. Abbas Garebaghi, the recently appointed chief of the supreme commander's staff.
He urged Bakhtiar to advise the uncensored press -- which reappeared three days ago after a two-month strike over censorship -- not to play up reports which might weaken the armed forces' morale on pain of incurring "grave consequences".
What lies behind such tough talk is unknown. But obviously it is worrying many Iranians.
Veteran observers are convinced the hardliners cannot logically hope to succeed in any Chilean-type repression. The recent two-month experiment in military government failed. The draftees who make up half the ground forces are not thought likely to go along with a coup, and even part of the officer corps is less than enthusiastic about such an adventure.