Accidents: Death of Raisi: Mourning and Investigations in Iran

Accidents: Death of Raisi: Mourning and Investigations in Iran

Funeral services are scheduled in Iran two days after the fatal helicopter crash. Meanwhile, there is speculation not only about the cause of the crash, but also about the future of the country.

In Iran, funeral ceremonies have been scheduled following the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian. In the morning, there will be a ceremony in the northwest of the country in the provincial capital of Tabriz. According to Iranian media, a celebration is then planned in the pilgrimage city of Qom. The date for the funeral of the two statesmen has not yet been announced. Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered five days of national mourning.

Raisi and Amirabdollahian died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. There is currently no reliable information about the cause of the crash, in which all seven other occupants of the helicopter died. The country’s army chief, General Mohammed Bagheri, ordered a thorough investigation and put together a highly technical team in the defense ministry, according to a report by the Isna news agency.

Since the crash, there has been speculation in Iran as to whether bad weather, a technical defect or even an act of sabotage by arch-enemy Israel could have been responsible for the incident. At the time in question there was thick fog and the Bell 212 presidential helicopter was over 40 years old. Two more helicopters from the Iranian delegation, which was returning from an appointment in Azerbaijan, reached their destination safely.

Iran’s air force is considered to be very outdated, its modernization is making little progress in the face of strict international sanctions, and new equipment and spare parts are difficult to obtain.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

Report: New elections could take place as early as June 28th

Meanwhile, Raisi’s first deputy, Mohammed Mochber, took over official duties in Iran. New elections could take place as early as June 28, as Isna reported, citing a spokesman for the electoral authority. This would mean that candidates could register from May 28th. However, the date has not yet been officially confirmed.

Unlike in many countries, the president in Iran is not the head of state, but merely the head of government. The real power is concentrated in the religious leader, who has the final say in all strategic matters. Since 1989 this has been Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tehran’s allies – including Russia and China – expressed their condolences after the death of the politicians, but there were rather cautious reactions from Western countries. The US government expressed its condolences, but accompanied it with a reference to the human rights situation in Iran. “As Iran elects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a written statement.

National Security Council communications director John Kirby said Raisi was responsible for atrocious human rights abuses in his country, as well as supporting terrorist networks across the region. “There’s no question – this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands.” However, the US government generally regrets the loss of human life and has therefore officially expressed its condolences. This is common practice. There was initially no reaction from the federal government.

Schadenfreude over the president’s death

Raisi was born in Mashhad in 1960 and worked in the country’s central judicial authority for over three decades. In 2019 he was appointed head of justice. In his previous role as public prosecutor, he is said to have been responsible for numerous arrests and executions of political dissidents in 1988, which is why his opponents called him the “Butcher of Tehran.”

Experts had meanwhile also treated Raisi as a possible successor to the now 85-year-old religious leader Khamenei. Even though criticism from the younger generation in particular is now increasingly directed against the entire system of the Islamic Republic, Raisi, as the face of the government, was particularly under pressure domestically.

Under him, the controversial course in the pursuit of compulsory headscarves was recently pushed forward, which angered parts of the population even more against the state power apparatus. On social media, numerous Iranians reacted with glee to the news of the president’s death.

Source: Stern

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