Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan warned today that political divisions "could lead to our downfall" unless the religious leadership and revolutionary militiamen under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini cooperate with the government.
In a broadcast seech, Bazargan also attacked Iran's biggest left-wing guerilla group, accusing it of helping to fement unrest among autonomy-seeking minorities. He appealed to various political factions to unite behind Khomeini's "unique" leadership.
The speech came within hours of separate meetings held by Khomeini with Bazargan's Cabinet and the ruling Revolutionary Council, concerned principally with the government's bid for stronger executive authority.
Bazargan was widely believed to be seeking Cabinet control of the country's maverick revolutionary committees and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard as well as clearer definition of the government's relationship with the Revolutionary Council.
There has been no official comment on the outcome of the meetings. But despite some reports of agreement on the need to curb committee interference in government affairs, Bazargan's Cabinet appears to have gained little in the way of increased executive powers.
Speaking at the end of the meetings, Health Minister Kazem Sami was quoted as saying, "We talked with the Revolutionary Council but no agreement has been reached yet."
In his speech to Revolutionary Guards later that evening, however, Bazargan carefully retreated from any rift with the country's religious leaders.
"The government does not have the desire or intention to stay for a moment if it finds no advantage in doing so," Bazargan said.
But he went on to make an unequivocal statement of support for Khomeini, who he said "has proved that he is a real leader." He called on the nation to form "a single axis" under Khomeini.
"There should be more cooperation with the government and the leadership," Bazargan said. "We cannot have various bodies - religious leaders, the Revolutionary Guardsmen, the committees, the National Front (a liberal political coalition), the revolutionary courts - all moving in different directions. The smallest division and diversion from a united direction could lead to our downfall."
Bazargan's alignment behind Khomeini was most marked in a sharp attack on the left-wing Fedaye Khalq guerrilla organization.
Asserting that "wherever there is trouble, the Fedaye is involved," Bazargan charged the group with stirring up conflict between Persians and Kurdish, Arab and Baluchi minorities.