Iranian President Raisi’s Death In Helicopter Crash Disrupts Succession Plans, Says Report

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's death in a helicopter crash disrupts hardliners' plans for his succession to Supreme Leader
Ebrahim Raisi
Ebrahim RaisiWikipedia

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's demise in a helicopter crash disrupts the plans of hardliners who had expected his succession to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This incident is likely to intensify rivalries within their faction around the future leadership of the Islamic Republic.

Ebrahim Raisi, 63-year-old protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who advanced through the ranks of Iran’s theocratic system, was widely considered a top contender to succeed the 85-year-old Supreme Leader. However, as per a report by Reuters, in the space of Iranian politics, his succession was far from guaranteed.

Raisi’s entry to the presidency was part of a broader effort by hardliners to consolidate power. They reportedly wanted to reinforce the foundations of the Islamic Republic against dissent and "powerful enemies" in a volatile region.

Khamenei, who had previously held the presidency before becoming supreme leader in 1989 after the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, provided strong support for Raisi. In Iran, the supreme leader holds ultimate authority over certain policy-making decisions and other important segments, acting as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and shaping foreign policy.

Although Khamenei has not named a successor, experts on Iran frequently cited Raisi as one of the top candidates, alongside Khamenei’s second son. Mojtaba has a strong influence behind the scenes of Iranian politics.

According to Vali Nasr, a professor of Middle East Studies and International Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Raisi clearly wanted the position.

“Now they don’t have a candidate, and that opens the door for other factions or other figures to emerge as serious contenders,” he stated.

As per the report, for a mid-ranking Shi’ite cleric, like Raisi, the presidency served as a stepping stone toward the supreme leadership. “There’s no other candidate right now (with) that kind of a platform and that’s why the presidential elections in Iran, however they unfold, will be the first decider about what comes next,” Nasr added.

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