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Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash

by Reporter - May 20 156 Views 0 Comment

Tehran is now grappling with a new wave of uncertainty following the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

This unfortunate event comes when the city is already grappling with various challenges, including a severe economic decline, widespread popular discontent, and ongoing conflicts.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has officially appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as the interim president following the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi in a tragic helicopter accident that also claimed the life of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

The helicopter, carrying several officials, including a provincial governor, crashed in northern Iran's East Azerbaijan province, and it is presumed that all those on board have perished.


According to Iranian state media, the helicopter transporting President Raisi encountered a rough landing on Sunday as it returned from Azerbaijan amidst unfavourable weather conditions. In a tragic turn of events, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also lost his life in the accident.


The world is eagerly awaiting the next steps for this influential Middle Eastern nation, with its vast population of almost 90 million. The government of this country has been known to support various proxy groups in the region, such as Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.


Analysts predict a certain level of continuity but highlight the potential for Iran's influential Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) further to solidify its control over the country's political trajectory.


In the summer of 2021, Raisi was elected amidst the lowest voter turnout recorded for an Iranian national election. He is considered a hardline right-winger and has been viewed as a potential successor to Ayatollah Khamenei, the 85-year-old Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic.

The passing of the individual in question triggers a predetermined succession plan, granting Vice President Mohammed Mokhber the authority to temporarily assume the presidency role and oversee the organisation of an election within the upcoming 50-day period.

The elections in Iran are widely regarded as lacking in freedom, with the final authority to determine the candidates resting in the hands of the influential and highly conservative Guardian Council.

According to Nader Itayim, Mideast Gulf Editor at Argus Media, recent years have witnessed a power struggle between the IRGC and other conservative factions. This observation was made during an interview with CNBC's Capital Connection on Monday.


According to Itayim, the IRGC's position in Iran's highest levels of authority will continue to be strong. It may even become more prominent during the next 50 days of the interim presidency. "The establishment of an interim presidency could potentially lead to increased influence of the IRGC over policies."


The relationship between Israel and the U.S.


According to Itayim, despite this development, Iran is unlikely to alter its course in terms of foreign and domestic policies.


The relationship with the U.S. and possibly Israel will remain the same. There are broader underlying issues between these countries that are likely to persist, as they are deeply rooted.


For decades, Iran has steadfastly refused to establish formal diplomatic relations with the U.S. and has consistently rejected recognising the state of Israel. As a result, the country continues to face the significant burden of severe U.S. and Western sanctions.

Efforts to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations to revive the Iranian nuclear deal have faced continuous setbacks throughout President Joe Biden's tenure.

Amid Israel's ongoing conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there has been a series of missile and drone attacks exchanged between Israel and Iran. 

These escalating hostilities have heightened tensions in the region and raised concerns about the possibility of a large-scale war in the Middle East.


Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, believes Raisi's death occurs during a challenging period for Iran.

However, she emphasises that the world should anticipate a sense of continuity despite this setback. Vakil points out that the true power in Iran does not reside in the presidency.

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