Home News What we know about the helicopter crash that killed Iran’s president

What we know about the helicopter crash that killed Iran’s president

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Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian were killed in a helicopter crash, leaving one of the Middle East’s most powerful and destructive countries at a critical moment.

Here’s what we know about the accident and its potential impact.

According to official media reports, at about 1 pm local time on Sunday, 63-year-old Raisi and Amir Abdullahian were in a helicopter on their way back from the border between Iran and Azerbaijan after completing the inauguration of a joint dam project. Crashed in a remote mountainous area.

The search and rescue team braved heavy rain and fog and searched in the mountains and dense forests for more than 10 hours to find the crash site. Authorities briefly called off an aerial search because of the weather and sent elite commandos from the Revolutionary Guards and others on foot.

State television urged the public to pray for the safety of Mr Lacey and his delegation during the rescue operation. Involving about 2,000 people –a whole night.

Search teams spotted the helicopter at dawn on Monday morning, with images of the burning wreckage shown on state television. No one survived.

In an article paying tribute to Raisi, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency said the helicopter crashed due to a “technical failure.” This appears to be the first time a cause of the crash has been pinpointed.

Raisi is a hardline cleric who came of age during Iran’s Islamic Revolution and is the second most powerful figure in Iran’s political structure after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

After Mr. Lacey takes office as president in 2021, Consolidating power and marginalizing reformists. He has expanded Iran’s regional influence, backed proxies across the Middle East and overseen a deadly crackdown on domestic protesters.

Mr. Amir Abdullahian is a career diplomat and, like mr lacey, hardliners. He is believed to have close ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is believed to have close ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Major General Qasem SoleimaniThe powerful leader of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, whom the United States killed in a drone strike in 2020.

The governor of East Azerbaijan province, an imam and two senior military officials leading security in Raisi were also killed in the crash, as well as the helicopter’s pilot and co-pilot, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iranian authorities appear eager to project a sense of order and control.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has said the government’s work will not be disrupted, issued a statement expressing his condolences and declaring five days of public mourning.

He said that Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhbel will take over the management of the government and will work with the heads of the legislature and judiciary to hold a new presidential election within 50 days. A conservative political activistMr Mohbel has been involved in business groups close to the supreme leader.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, in order to fill the vacancy left by the death of Amir Abdullahian, the Iranian cabinet appointed one of his deputies, Ali Bagheri Qani, as a “caretaker” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Bagheri Kani served as iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and participated in transactions in 2023 Release imprisoned Americans in exchange for several imprisoned Iranians and ultimately approximately $6 billion in Iranian funds.

The death of Raisi, a conservative who violently suppressed dissent, comes at a particularly tumultuous time in Iran.

its long shadow war On October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, triggering the Gaza War, and Israel openly A series of blows and counterattacks the whole area. Hostilities became more apparent after Israel killed several senior Iranian commanders in attacks. Iranian Embassy in Syria last month.Iran retaliated First direct attack on Israel After decades of hostility.

The future of Iran’s nuclear program is Another key question. Iran produces nuclear fuel that is enriched just below the level needed to produce a few bombs.Just last week, Mr. Amir Abdollahian Meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi He demanded better access to Iran’s vast nuclear complex.

At home, Iran also faces widespread discontent, with many residents calling for an end to clerical rule. Corruption and sanctions have devastated the economy and stoked frustration. In the past two years, there have been domestic riots in the country and the Iranian currency has fallen to a record low. water shortage Climate change is exacerbating this deadliest Terrorist attacks Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

Some analysts said they did not believe Raisi’s death heralded a major change in Iran’s international agenda because the country’s top leader is responsible for setting national policy and the president’s power comes from executing those decisions.

“To some extent, this outcome does not herald a dramatic change in the way Iran formulates and implements its interests abroad,” said Ali Vaez, Iran director at the International Crisis Group.

However, analysts said Raisi’s unexpected death could change Iran’s domestic political landscape.

“The problem for the regime is that the crash disrupts the political environment,” said Afshon Ostovar, an associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. “It could trigger political infighting within the regime. , especially behind the scenes.”

Condolences were issued by Raisi’s political opponents, some of whom had openly criticized his rule, including the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has faced many very difficult situations since its founding but has overcome them,” said his grandson Hassan Khomeini.

Leave a message too World leaders are flocking to. Among them were Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who called Mr. Lacey a “wonderful man” and a “true friend of Russia.” .

EU President Charles Michel said the bloc expressed its “sincere condolences” – news that raised some eyebrows given the bloc’s tense relations with Iran.

Riley Nikunazar, Anushka Patil, Erica Solomon and Martina Steeves Gridnev Contributed reporting.

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