Home News Iran pivots to stabilization projects after key leader killed in plane crash

Iran pivots to stabilization projects after key leader killed in plane crash

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Iran quickly appointed an acting president and foreign minister on Monday in an attempt to create a sense of order and control, a day after a helicopter crash killed two of its leaders. The leadership change comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East and growing discontent in Iran, with many residents calling for an end to decades of religious repression.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced a five-day meeting for President Ibrahim Raisi, 63, and Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian, 60 Mourning, they were killed when their helicopter crashed into a mountainous area near the Iranian city of Jorfa. These people returned from the Iran-Azerbaijan border after the completion of the Joint Dam project.

Iran’s armed forces said they had set up a committee to investigate the crash, which state media attributed to a “technical glitch.”

Raisi, a hardline cleric who came of age during the country’s Islamic revolution, oversaw a deadly crackdown on protesters as head of the judiciary in 2019 and as president in 2022. He had been widely seen as a possible successor to Raisi. Khamenei, 85.

On Monday, Mr Khamenei appointed Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad MokhbelActing President and announced that Mr. Mokhbel would organize new presidential elections within 50 days. Mokhbel is a conservative politician who has long been involved in large business groups close to Khamenei.

Iran’s cabinet appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani as the ministry’s “caretaker,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Mr. Bagheri Kani served as iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Involved in a transaction last year Free imprisoned Americans in exchange for several imprisoned Iranians and ultimately approximately $6 billion in Iranian funds.

Iranian officials said a public procession will be held on Tuesday in Tabriz, the largest city closest to the crash site, and the body will then be transported to Tehran for a state funeral.

Some Iranians mourned Raisi, including those who held an overnight vigil in his hometown of Mashhad in northeastern Iran. State media also showed images of vigils in Tehran and many other cities.

“Raisi is tireless,” Khamenei said in a statement. “In this very sad incident, the Iranian people have lost a valuable and loyal public servant.”

Muhammad Ali Akhangalan, a prominent religious scholar in Tehran, said in a telephone interview that he cried for hours when he heard the news, adding that although he had campaigned against Mr Lacey, the president’s death A sad moment for him. nation.

Iranian analysts say that while there is speculation about who might be elected as the next president, there is no doubt about the overall stability of the country or government. They pointed out that Khamenei will continue to serve as the supreme leader and have the power to control major national policies.

Sasan Karimi, an adjunct professor and foreign policy researcher at the University of Tehran, said in a report: “These deaths have shocked everyone, and even rival political factions have come together to express solidarity. Routines in Iranian culture when someone dies.” Telephone interview. “In fact, there will be no real power vacuum in Iran because the cabinet and government are already in place and functioning.”

Despite official calls for mourning, many Iranians welcomed Raisi’s death as one of the key figures in a corrupt regime that oversaw the executions of dissidents, used brutal violence to suppress and kill protesters, and arrested journalists and activists. Many of the victims are women and young people.

Anger against the government has grown over the past two years as Iran’s currency has fallen to record lows. water shortage Climate change exacerbates country’s deadliest blow Terrorist attacks Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

A widely circulated meme on social media shows a helicopter being shot down by the braids of a young woman without a hat. The image is a reference to the “Women, Life, Freedom” protests that began in 2022 against a law requiring women to dress modestly and wear headscarves.

“All this humor is a painful expression of a nation’s pain,” Safa, 55, a doctor in Mashhad, like other Iranians, asked that only her first name be used out of fear of government reprisal.

Parisa, 55, who lives in Lahijan in northwestern Iran, said she initially felt relieved when she heard the president and foreign minister had died in the helicopter crash.

“But after they were found, I didn’t think this easy death was enough for them,” she said. “They should be tried in court, forced to howl like dogs and suffer long and painful punishment.”

Many countries, including the United States, expressed condolences after the crash.

Iranian state television reported that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, a close ally of Iran, had spoken with Mohbel and expressed his willingness to provide Russian assistance “with all his strength.” Turkey, Iraq and the European Union said they were also helping with search and recovery efforts at the crash site.

White House national security spokesman John F. Kirby said the United States had expressed its “condolences,” but added that “we will continue to hold Iran accountable for all of its destabilizing actions in the region. That continues until today.”

Last month, the long-running shadow war between Iran and Israel erupted with direct strikes from both sides. Two Iran-backed militia groups, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, continue to fight Israeli forces. The future of Iran’s nuclear program hangs over the Middle East. The country produces nuclear fuel that is enriched just below the level needed to produce a few bombs.

In Israel, Raisi is viewed as a figurehead with little influence over foreign policy or Iran’s support for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen.

“From an Israeli perspective, I don’t think he achieved anything by being replaced by some other radical conservative Iranian,” said Sima Shain, an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “The president is not the most important person in Iran.”

Analysts said Raisi’s death could boost the prospects of the Ayatollah’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, succeeding him as supreme leader. He is a low-key hardliner who grew up among Iran’s clergy and political elite and has close ties to Iran’s powerful military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Arash Aziz, a lecturer at Clemson University who focuses on Iran, said a growing number of Iranian political leaders have begun publicly supporting him.

“In 2009, when people started talking about Mojtaba as a potential successor, I thought it was a cheap rumor,” Dr. Aziz said. “But that’s not the case anymore. It’s clear now that he was a remarkable figure. He was remarkable because he almost completely disappeared from public view.”

Other Iran experts have dismissed the idea that Mojtaba Khamenei could replace his father as supreme leader, saying it would upend the logic of Iran’s government system. For one, the son teaches at Iran’s largest seminary, but he has not achieved high status among the Shia clergy, a qualification long considered a requirement for supreme leadership.

Since the Islamic Revolution deposed the Shah in 1979, Iran has also declared the end of hereditary rule as one of its basic principles.

“What does it mean if the supreme leader becomes hereditary? It means the system is dead,” said Mohammad Ali Shabani, an Iranian analyst and editor of Amwaj. Amwaj is a UK-based news outlet focusing on Iran, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.

Analysts say there will be a fierce battle for influence and power before a successor is chosen. Ultimately, they say, choices will be made within an opaque system that has only become less transparent in recent years.

“The reality is no one knows,” Mr. Shabani said. “This is crazy — there is zero transparency into a process that affects millions of Iranians.”

Report contributors: Michael Levinson, Michael D. Schell, Matthew M’Poke Biggar, Erica Solomon, Patrick Kingsley, Anton Troyanovsky and Martina Steeves Gridnev.

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