Home News Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dies in helicopter crash at 63

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dies in helicopter crash at 63


Iran’s president, Ibrahim Raisi, a leading contender to succeed the country’s supreme leader, was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash. He is 63 years old.

A conservative Shia Muslim cleric has been involved in some of the most brutal crackdowns on opponents of the Islamic Republic, Mr Raisi is a disciple Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also a loyal defender of the country’s religious rule.

Mr. Lacey’s presidency has been defined by two major events: the 2022 national uprising led by women and girls demanding an end to the Islamic Republic and the government’s brutal crackdown on that movement; and the current Middle East war with Israel, which has long fought Conduct covert attacks.

As President of the Iranian political system, Mr. Raisi No national nuclear or regional policy is formulated. But he inherited an administration that steadily expanded its regional influence through a network of proxy militias and a nuclear program that rapidly advanced to weapons-grade uranium enrichment levels after the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal.

Mr. Lacey endorses and supports both policies and considers them critical for Iran to maintain its influence in the region and exert influence over the West.

His death was the result of a years-long shadow war The conflict became one of direct confrontation after Israel launched a military attack on Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

Born into a cleric’s family in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mr. Raisi studied at the country’s prestigious seminary in Qom before taking part in the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran when he was 18. Just two years later, Mr. Raisi became a judge in the newly formed Islamic Republic and began his steady rise to the top of Iranian politics.

Like Khamenei and his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic revolution, Raisi wore the cleric’s black turban, which is worn by the “Sayyids”, or lineage Dating back to the Prophet Muhammad) preserved.

Iran’s succession issue has become more pressing now that Khamenei is 85 years old and in frail health. The election of the next supreme leader is an opaque process fraught with political competition and wrangling. Under the Constitution, the supreme leader is chosen by an elected clerical body called the Assembly of Experts.

Raisi is seen as one of the top contenders for the job and is favored by hardliners, as is Ayatollah Khamenei’s son Moitaba, an influential cleric personnel, helping run his father’s office. Mr Raisi’s death essentially paved the way for the young Mr Khamenei to succeed his father.

Political analysts describe Raisi as a loyal implementer of Khamenei’s policies and a promoter of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ growing power in Iran’s politics and economy.

“He is not a charismatic person. His speeches are not inspiring people to take to the streets. He is enforcing policies,” said Sanam Wakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House. “Above all, he is a regime insider. He is an ideologue working within and through the system.”

Raisi’s supporters, including conservative pundits in state media, praise him for reimposing strict religious and social rules, intolerance of dissent, and shifting Iran’s policy away from the West toward greater engagement with Russia and China.

From 2016 to 2019, Mr Raisi ran Astan Quds Razavi, a powerful multi-billion dollar religious group controlled by Mr Khamenei and believed to be his one of the leaders. His most important source of wealth.

In 2019, Mr Raisi became the head of Iran’s judiciary, and during his tenure he oversaw some of the most brutal crackdowns on dissent.At least 500 people died during this period Nationwide demonstrations in November 2019 in response to soaring fuel prices. The judiciary arrested activists, journalists, lawyers and dual citizens.

He takes office in 2021 in an election widely seen as orchestrated to ensure his victory while his strongest rivals have been disqualified.

Lacey ran as an anti-corruption candidate but took office amid condemnation from government opponents and international rights groups.Rights groups highlight Mr Lacey’s background As a member of a team of four At the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, he ordered the execution of 5,000 political dissidents without trial. Lacey has not denied being a member of the panel and said in a speech that he was a junior official appointed by the then-top leader.

“We have lost a generation of political minds and activists who could have been important players in Iranian society,” said Hadi Ghami, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

He believes Raisi played a role in some of the most repressive moments in Iran’s history, particularly the crackdown on anti-government protests in 2009 and 2022.

Lacey came to power three years after President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. After the United States withdrew from the deal, Trump reimposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, hitting the country’s oil sales and banks. A year later, after Iran failed to benefit from the nuclear deal, it resumed uranium enrichment near weapons-grade levels.

Lacey came into office promising to pursue a “diplomacy of resistance,” meaning contempt for Western powers but a willingness to negotiate, particularly with the United States, to return to the nuclear deal and seek to lift sanctions. But months of negotiations failed in the fall of 2021, with no agreement reached with the Biden administration.

One of the most important foreign policy achievements of Lacey’s presidency is one that his predecessors have long eluded: restoring relations with Iran’s long-time regional rival Saudi Arabia. In 2023, the two countries signed an agreement to restore diplomatic relations in Beijing. Although largely symbolic, the agreement is seen as key to defusing regional rivalries.

Lacey has prioritized closer ties with Russia and China and distanced himself from the West, saying Iran cannot trust the United States and Europe after the collapse of the nuclear deal.Mr Lacey’s government achieved A comprehensive 25-year economic, security and military agreement Relations with China: Iran agreed to sell discounted oil to Beijing in exchange for Chinese companies investing $400 billion in various sectors in Iran.

He has also traveled frequently to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, deepening security and military ties. Iran has sold drones Russia has used them in the war in Ukraine, although Lacey has denied that role.

Mr. Lacey’s influence on domestic policy was even more profound during his presidency, and his legacy is likely to be controversial. During his rule, the country suffered a severe economic recession due to international sanctions and high unemployment.

“If you want to think about his legacy, he left the country’s economy in ruins and made it even more repressive,” said Sina Azodi, a lecturer on Iran at George Washington University. “Iran has never been democratic or free. country, but political repression has intensified since 2021 and no dissent is tolerated.”

Under Mr Lacey’s watch, Iran’s currency plummeted to record lows, Climate change and mismanagement worsen water shortagethe country was attacked in January deadliest terrorist attack Since the founding of the Republic in 1979.

Mr Lacey also oversaw a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests that broke out in 2022. 21-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini diesShe was detained by Iran’s morality police at the time. Her death sparked a wave of protests led by women who removed their headscarves and called for the overthrow of the Islamic republic.

Mr. Lacey announced this spring that he would reimpose hijab rules, after many Iranian women defied mandatory hijab rules and appeared in public for more than a year without covering their hair. His government returned moral police to the streets in April after earlier saying it had abolished them, and many arrests of women turned violent.

The United States imposed sanctions on Mr. Lacey in 2019, and accusations of human rights abuses dogged his life on the international stage until his final years.

In December, he canceled a visit to the United Nations in Geneva over concerns he could face arrest for his alleged role in a 1988 mass execution. Sweden indicts junior Iranian judicial official Crimes against humanity. But Lacey does attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York every year, delivering fiery speeches that blame foreign enemies for Iran’s dissent while portraying Iran as a model of good governance and a defender of human rights.

Mr. Lacey is survived by his wife, Jamileh Alamolhoda, a university professor of philosophy and education and a powerful Daughter of hard-line, influential cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda. The couple has two daughters and at least one grandchild.

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