IRAN: Oil, Grandeur and a Challenge to the West

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Grand Goals. But there are larger questions about Iran's future that remain unanswered. What if the Shah were to die suddenly? Would Empress Farah, who has been designated regent for Crown Prince Reza, 14, be able to carry on the great projects now under way? Is the Shah's imposing military buildup a deterrent against war or a provocation? The Shah has not only filled the power vacuum that existed in the gulf after the British left but has shown an interest in establishing a strong naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Inevitably, such a move would increase the fears of Iran's neighbors about the Shah's geopolitical ambitions. Will the people and, above all, the army remain loyal if the grand goals of the white revolution are unrealized and if untrammeled economic progress outstrips social growth? After all, some are still alive who witnessed the ouster of the last monarch but one by an ambitious, dissatisfied soldier. On the record so far, the future favors the Shah. Between oil and ambition, therefore, he and his developing nation are bound to be increasingly visible, increasingly vocal and increasingly vital.

* There are differences even in religion. Most Arabs belong to the dominant Sunnite branch of Islam; Iranians adhere to the smaller Shi'ite sect.

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