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Iranian President Raisi reported dead in helicopter crash

President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Tabriz Friday Prayers imam Ayatollah Al-e Hashem, East Azarbaijan governor general Malek Rahmati, Raisi's bodyguard and the pilot have all been killed in the chopper crash in northwestern Iran, the state TV announced. Raisi was 63.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash site, state media report. Raisi was 63.

Screenshot from video released by the Iranian Red Crescent shows the crash site of the missing helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi in East Azerbaijan province.

The Bodies of President Raisi and delegation were being transported (Source: X)

State media gave no immediate cause for the crash.

All nine people on board the helicopter died when it crashed on Monday in Iran's northwestern East Azerbaijan region, state media said.

Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian were traveling back from a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The helicopter disappeared from radar on Sunday afternoon.

Who is Raisi and what will happen in the Middle East in the wake of his death?

Who is Raisi, who, after conservative and moderate rivals were disqualified by a hardline oversight body, came to power in 2021 replacing the moderate outgoing leader Hassan Rouhani, and what might happen in Iran and elsewhere in the wake of Sunday's accident?

Strict upbringing

Born in 1960 into a strictly religious family in the country's second-largest city, Mashhad, Ebrahim Raisi underwent extensive theological training and holds the title of hojatoleslam, which literally means "authority on Islam." In Iran's religious hierarchy, the position is second only to the ayatollah.

Raisi's career began at the age of 20 in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution when he was appointed prosecutor general of Karaj, a suburb of Tehran. It was the first of many positions he would hold in the judiciary. He later became a judge, and since 2019 has headed up the country's judiciary.

Raisi's time in power

Raisi was often seen as a frontrunner to succeed Ali Khamenei as Iran's Supreme Leader. His presidency has seen a deadlock in nuclear negotiations with the United States over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and large-scale unrest across the country at the end of 2022 following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after being detained by the morality police for allegedly improperly wearing a hijab.

During Raisi's term, Iran also intensified its uranium enrichment and supported Russia over Moscow's decision to invade Ukraine. 

Last month, Iran launched a missile and drone attack on Israel amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, as well as continuing to arm proxy groups such as Hezbollah and the Houthi movement.

Israel, with the help of the US, the UK, Jordan and others, intercepted nearly all the hundreds of missiles and drones.

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has drawn in other Iranian allies, with every move raising fears over a wider conflict.

Earlier this month, Raisi said that "Iran supports the legitimate defense of the Palestinian nation," while praising the "resistance" efforts of Hamas.

What happens next?

Already before the death was officialy confirmed, the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, urged Iranians to "not worry" about the leadership of the country, saying "there will be no disruption in the country's work."

According to Article 131 of Iran's constitution, if a president dies while in office, the first vice president takes over, with the confirmation of the supreme leader.

A council consisting of the first vice president, the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary must then carry out an election for a new president within 50 days.

Whether Raisi's death will affect the stability in the region remains to be seen, but the West, among others, will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and how Iran responds.

Second publication by courtesy of DW / DW2


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