Iran's beleaguered new government, already threatened by armed bands of political extremists in the capital, today faced the danger of uprisings among tribal minorities in the eastern and western border regions of the country.
The government issued a strong warning that it would not tolerate any secessionist agitation nor permit "the threat of civil war."
Iran traditionally has been confronted with separatist sentiment among minorities in Azerbaijan, in the northwest; in Baluchistan, in the southeast, and in particular in Kurdistan in the west. The government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan has been preoccupied with urban extremists and only now has directed its attention to the rural minorities.
Officials today said a delegation headed by the minister for labor and social affairs, Dariush Foruhar, flew to Kurdistan to head off a potential uprising in the region bordering Iraq, where rebel tribesmen reportedly have been raiding Iranian gendarmerie posts and other government installations in recent weeks.
Foreign Minister Karim Sanjabi, himself of Kurdish origin, said independence for Kurdistn was out of the question and warned Iranian Kurds against "armed elements" he said were opposed to national unity.
The government's moves against the Kurdish tribesmen came as the new rulers continued to purge generals loyal to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, executing four more of them early today after their conviction on charges of 'mass murder, treason and plunder of the national treasury" by a mysterious "Islamic Revolutionary Court."
Aides to religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said Gen. Parviz Amin Afshar, former commander of the shah's Imperial Guard; Brig. Gen. Manuchehr Malek, the infantry commander in Qazvin; Gen. Nematullah Motamadi, military governor of Qazvin, and Gen. Hossein Hamadanian, chief of the SAVAK secret police in Kermanshah, were shot at 2 a.m.
The four brought the toll of executed generals to eight so far in the armed forces purge, which has also been marked by the forced retirement of scores of senior officers.
Adding insult to injury for the deposed shah, nine members of his entourage commandeered his personal Boeing 707 and flew it back to Tehran today from Morocco, where the shah and members of his immediate family are living in exile.
The Iranian capital, meanwhile showed further signs of returning to normal as commerce picked up and grade schools reopened after being closed more than three months due to the civil unrest which led to the armed uprising against the Bakhtiar administration.
Nevertheless, the provisional government that took power a week ago still faces serious problems in getting army deseters to return to their barracks, racks, countering heavily armed leftist guerrillas and dealing with separatist agitation.
Meanwhile, Irans assistant prime minister, Amir Entezam, denounced what he called "rumors" about separatist agitation in the southeastern province of Baluchistan, bordering on Pakistan. He said such reports were aimed at undermining the government.
"Iran's geopolitical situation is so sensitive that it cannot permit such disintegration or the threat of civil war," Entezam said of the reported secessionist disturbances.
In Kurdistan, Tehran newspapers reported, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, an Iraq-based group, last week attacked and occupied several Iranian government buildings.
In Sanandaj, the provincial capital of Iranian Kurdistan, armed youths reportedly seized the government's new police chief and were holding him captive. In addition, 14 people were reported killed and five wounded in a day-long battle Sunday between two Kurdish tribes over rights to weapons looted from army garrisons.
Iraqi Kurds fought a long guerrilla war with the government in Baghdad in an effort to establish their own state, but their hopes were dashed in 1975 when the shah mended fences with Iraq and ended Iranian support for the Kurdish rebels.
Many of Iran's estimated 3.5 million Kurds sympathized with the secessionist movement, but they were denied arms and held in careful check by the shah's once-powerful army.
Adding a political jab at Bazargan's provisional government was a statement by the National Front grouping of political parties demanding greater participation in the new government, which is dominated by Khomeini.
"All groups and organizations which took part in the great revolution should participate one way or another in the provisional revolutionary bodies," a lengthy statement said. It said that in addition to a wider variety of national front and other political parties, the two main guerrilla groups -- the Islamic Mujaheddin and the Marxist Fedaye -- should also have a role.
Khomeini went on national television tonight and strongly denounced armed leftist groups, following up recent warnings for them to stop trying to undermine his government.
Practically the only cheer for the revolutionary government today was provided by the defection of the deposed shah's aides.
Four crewmen took the exiled monarch's private silver-blue plane, named Shahin (Eagle), on what was supposed to be a test flight from the Moroccan capital of Rabat, then headed for Tehran with three of the shah's bodyguards and two servants.
In a press conference at Khomeini's headquarters, the defecting bodyguards and servants said three other members of the entourage already had left for the United States. They said the shah's Iranian attendants now only included his chief of protocol and four military guards, one of whom is hospitalized with a stomach ailment.
They said they made the decision to return to Iran when they found out the armed forces had switched its allegiance to the new revolutionary rulers following the defeat of the elite Imperial Guard in last weekend's battles with armed airmen, guerrillas and ordinary citizens.
The defectors, who are being held by the Khomeini committee for "questioning," said the shah knew of their desire to leave and "tried very had to make us stay."
One of the burly bodyguards said the shah "offered us everything we could want, but we felt obliged to return because we are Iranians, we are Moslems and this is our home country."
They also said they had been cut off from their families while staying with the shah and his wife at their exile in Marrakesh, Morocco.