MOSCOW — The official Tass news agency has accused the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran and his lieutenants of waging war against Iraq only to preserve their power and cover up their "total incompetence" in social and economic development.
The accusation was contained in a Tass article bylined M. Krutikhin that appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of Kommunist, the Communist Party newspaper in Armenia, which arrived Friday by mail in Moscow.
The article called Khomeini a "fanatical and stubborn figure" but said that his death would not bring the Iran-Iraq War to an end because his followers need a scapegoat for their own failures.
Exposed to Propaganda
None of the major national newspapers, such as Pravda and Izvestia, reported the strongly worded denunciation. One Western diplomat said the article may have been intended primarily for the southernmost republics, which are exposed to Iran radio propaganda.
It could foreshadow a much tougher Moscow line against Iran in the international arena, however, and leave the Khomeini regime even more isolated than it already is in world politics.
The Soviet Union recently has been trying to play a mediator's role in the Iran-Iraq War. While it is a major arms supplier to Iraq, it has sent special delegations to Tehran and taken othe1914729332Iran and persuade Tehran to end the seven-year-old war.
Yet Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev indicated recently that Moscow was willing to consider, for the first time, a United Nations arms embargo against Iran for refusing to comply with a U.N. cease-fire resolution.
The Tass article in the Armenian party publication said that Khomeini is primarily a figurehead, who also serves as referee between warring factions of Islamic clergymen make the day-to-day government decisions in Tehran.
"But this is what strikes the eye: in all the time since its access to power in 1979, the ruling group of the clergy (in Iran) did not manifest itself in a single constructive act of policy," Tass said.
"We have in mind here the steps toward progress--development of the national productive forces, welfare of the Iranian people and so on," the article said.
"Total incompetence of the Iranian theologians in social and economic development was noted by researchers and analysts more than once.
'God's Gift for Khomeini'
"And the war, that flared up in 1980, became a veritable god's gift for Khomeini and his retinue," Tass added.
"It is not a coincidence that Tehran officials disrupt all peace initiatives and reject, on various pretexts, all attempts at mediation in resolving the conflict with Iraq.
"The war, in this case, is a form of political existence for the theologians," Tass charged. "Apart from the bloodthirsty appeals for more sacrifices in the name of overturning a government in a neighboring country and spreading the 'Islamic revolution' to other countries, they cannot offer anything to their own people," the article said.
A Destructive Force
"They are a destructive, not constructive force," Tass concluded.
Even the death of the elderly Khomeini would not bring the end of the war with Iraq, Tass said, adding: "The opposite is more likely--that the end of the war would lead to the collapse of the Islamic regime in its current form, unless, that is, it starts a new war elsewhere to distract Iranians from unresolved internal problems."
Moscow has called for a U.N. fleet in the gulf to protect shipping and replace naval task forces sent there by such countries as the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union itself.
While it joined with the United States and all other members of the U.N. Security Council in adopting a cease-fire call last summer, Moscow so far has not been willing to support punitive measures against Iran for rejecting the resolution. Iraq has accepted the U.N. proposal, provided that Iran also accepts it.