Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister died in the helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, aged 63, and the Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Iran’s state media announced. The Iranian government called an “emergency meeting” on Monday.

Search operations for the crashed helicopter lasted all night. In the morning, images appeared of the completely burned wreckage in the mountainous area on the border with Azerbaijan. The helicopter carrying President Raisi was a US-made model that could not be imported into Iran after 1979.

The Red Crescent announces that it has recovered the remains of President Ebrahim Raisi and the other passengers. On Monday morning, Iranian rescuers recovered the remains of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and eight other passengers from the helicopter that crashed the day before in the northwest of the country, the Red Crescent announced, reports AFP. Rescuers’ intervention was difficult due to the steep terrain and weather conditions.

The Iranian government has said there will be no “interruption” in the administration of Iran.

The Iranian government assured on Monday, in a statement, that the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter accident will not cause “the slightest interruption in the administration” of Iran, informs AFP.

“The president of the Iranian people, hardworking and tireless, (…) sacrificed his life for the nation”, the Iranian government reacted. “We assure the loyal nation that, with the help of God and the support of the people, there will not be the slightest interruption in the administration of the country,” added the executive in Tehran, at his first meeting after announcing the death of President Raisi.

The cabinet was chaired by the first vice-president of Iran, Mohammad Mokhber, who would become interim president, according to the Iranian Constitution. The German press agency dpa writes that the Iranian executive met for a second emergency meeting in less than 24 hours after the confirmation of Raisi’s death. 

State news agency IRNA says Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem, the imam of the city of Tabriz, and General Malek Rahmati, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, were also on board. The commander of the president’s guard and protection unit, Sardar Seyed Mehdi Mousavi, also died. There were also bodyguards and crew members in the helicopter, whose names have not been released, according to the BBC.

Weather may have played a key role in the crash of the helicopter that killed Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, military analyst Cedric Leighton told CNN. “You’ve got fog, you’ve got rain, you’ve got cold temperatures,” Leighton said.
With temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, there is a possibility at higher altitudes that the rotor will freeze. There is a possibility of engine failure,” he said. Leighton added that the aircraft’s maintenance may also have played a role, given that, under the impact of sanctions, Iran has used old equipment to transport its high-level leaders. “The other factor in this would be maintenance – whether or not the helicopter has been properly maintained.”
Who was Ebrahim Raisi?
Ebrahim Raisi was perceived as an uncompromising autocratic president, overseeing a crackdown on protests at home and pushing hard in nuclear talks with world powers.
Elected president in a closely-held vote in 2021, Raisi has taken a tough line in the nuclear negotiations, eyeing a chance to win broad relief from US sanctions in exchange for modest restrictions on Iran’s increasingly advanced technology. Iran’s hard line has been encouraged by the chaotic US military withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan and the political swings in Washington.
A year after his election, the mid-ranking cleric ordered stricter enforcement of Iran’s “Hijab and Chastity Law,” which restricts women’s clothing and behavior.
Within weeks, a young Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, Mahsa Amini, died in custody after being arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating this law. The months of nationwide protests that resulted were one of the worst challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Hundreds of people were killed, according to rights groups, including dozens of security personnel who they participated in a harsh repression of the demonstrators. “The acts of chaos are unacceptable”, insisted the president then.
Raisi had full support for his nuclear stance and security crackdown from his mentor, the strongly anti-Western Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei, rather than the president, has the final say in all major policies within Iran’s dual political system, divided between the clerical establishment and the government.
But Raisi’s election victory, after heavyweight conservative and moderate rivals were disqualified by a conservative watchdog, brought all branches of power in Iran under the control of hardliners loyal to Khamenei and boosted Raisi’s chances of succeeding him in -one day in the position of supreme leader.
However, widespread protests against the clerical regime and failure to revive Iran’s struggling economy – hampered by Western sanctions and mismanagement – may have dampened his popularity in the country.
Raisi was prosecutor. As a young prosecutor in Tehran, he was part of a group that oversaw the execution of hundreds of political prisoners in the capital in 1988 as the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq drew to a close, rights groups say to man.
Inquisitions known as “death committees” have been set up across Iran, made up of religious judges, prosecutors and Intelligence Ministry officials, to decide the fate of thousands of detainees in arbitrary trials lasting just minutes, according to a report by Amnesty International. Although the number of people killed in Iran has never been confirmed, Amnesty has said that minimum estimates put it at 5,000.
AzerbaijanborderdiedForeign ministerhelicopter crashHossein Amir-AbdollahianIranIranian President Ebrahim Raisi
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