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Ebrahim Raisi: What we know – and what we don’t – about the helicopter crash

Ebrahim Raisi: What we know – and what we don’t – about the helicopter crash

After hours of searching, helpers in Iran find Ebrahim Raisi’s crashed helicopter. The President of the Islamic Republic and all other occupants died in the accident.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has died in a helicopter crash. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who was in the helicopter with 63-year-old Raisi, is also dead, an Iranian government official told the Reuters news agency on Monday. All occupants were killed in the crash on Sunday in the northwest of the country. The deaths of Raisi and Amirabdollahian were also reported on state television and by Iran’s Mehr News Agency.

What happened?

This is still unclear. Raisi and Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian were on their way back from an appointment in the north of the country and had to fly by helicopter through thick fog when the helicopter disappeared from radar. Iranian media initially reported a “hard landing”, later there was talk of an accident. According to the state news agency Irna, the accident occurred in the Dismar forest area near the city of Warsaghan.

State television showed images from the scene of the accident on Monday and reported that the helicopter had crashed into a mountain peak. There is no official confirmation of this yet. The accident site is in impassable terrain. On Monday morning, the Red Crescent confirmed that the bodies of Raisi and the other inmates had been recovered.

The rescue teams had to continue the search on foot on Sunday and Monday. State television said the route was muddy and far from roads. It is also unclear whether all passengers died immediately. Iran’s vice president for executive affairs, Mohsen Mansuri, said on state television on Sunday that the crew had been contacted several times.

Why was Raisi in the north of the country?

The Iranian president and his foreign minister met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday. Together they inaugurated a dam in the neighboring country. The entourage then made its way back to Iran with a total of three helicopters, but the presidential plane did not arrive at its destination.

How safe was the helicopter flight?

Iran’s air force is considered to be very outdated and its modernization is making little progress in the face of strict international sanctions. Many of the planes and helicopters date from before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the country had close relations with the United States. Because of the sanctions, it is also difficult for the country to get spare parts.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Raisi was elected president in 2021 on the second attempt. The 63-year-old is considered a hardliner. He ordered the bloody crackdown on nationwide protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody a year and a half ago. The so-called morality police arrested her because she was said to have worn her headscarf incorrectly. He also stands for a tough stance in international negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program. Many observers saw Raisi as a promising candidate to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The spiritual leader of Iran has explicitly supported Raisi’s government policies.

What’s next in Iran?

According to protocol, the first vice president, Mohammed Mochber, will initially replace Raisi as head of government. According to the constitution, new elections must take place within 50 days.

The Islamic Republic is now in danger of plunging into a domestic and foreign policy crisis. Iran’s foreign minister in particular has been more in the public eye since the beginning of the Gaza war and has been a guest of allies on numerous trips. It will also be difficult for the state leadership to quickly replace the head of government due to a lack of alternatives.

After the death, a violent power struggle is likely to break out, wrote Iran expert Arash Azizi in an analysis for the US magazine “The Atlantic”. Raisi’s passivity has encouraged challengers among the hardliners. They would see his weak presidency as an opportunity, Azizi wrote. “The death of Raisi would change the balance of power between factions within the Islamic Republic.”

Source: Stern

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