What lies ahead for Iran after President Raisi's death?
    Russian expert analyses

    INTERVIEWS  22 May 2024 - 14:41

    Matanat Nasibova

    The Iranian government has decided to hold the 14th presidential election in the country on June 28. According to the IRNA news agency, the relevant information was disseminated by the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Interior of Iran. It is also known that presidential candidates will be able to register from May 30 to June 3, and the election campaign will last from June 12 to the morning of June 27. According to Iran's constitution, the republic must hold elections for a new president within 50 days. Until then, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will fulfil his duties.

    On May 19, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and other high-ranking officials crashed. The Iranian delegation was returning from the Iran-Azerbaijan border zone and was on its way to the city of Tabriz.

    Caliber.Az talked to Vladimir Sazhin, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for insights into the unfolding events.

    "I would first point out the untenability of conspiracy theories related to any terrorist attack. Everything points to the fact that the cause of the crash of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president was bad weather conditions and terrain features. Firstly.

    Secondly, because of American sanctions, Iran's entire aircraft fleet - both aeroplanes and helicopters - is experiencing an acute shortage of original spare parts. Considering that the Iranians manufacture them themselves, it is quite likely that various deviations could have occurred. I think that such a helicopter in such weather conditions could hardly cope with the delivery of VIPs.

    Thirdly, as it seems to me, it made no sense for Iran's foreign policy opponents to carry out such a complicated operation to eliminate Raisi, if only because it would have had no effect on the country's political course," Vladimir Sazhin explained.

    Answering the question about who can occupy the presidential seat in Iran, the Russian expert suggested that the struggle for power in Iran may unfold between all real candidates for this post.

    As for the probability of destabilisation of the situation in Iran, the expert says that the death of the Iranian president is unlikely to lead to serious political changes or provoke unrest in the country.

    The fact is that in Iran, power is fully vested in the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and in fact Raisi was the second person in the Islamic Republic. However, in recent years all branches of power in Iran - executive, judicial and legislative - have been overseen by the radical conservative wing of the Iranian political establishment, to which Raisi himself belonged. This group is somewhat heterogeneous and consists of factions vying for leverage. Rather, the death of Iran's president may slightly destabilise the situation in the upper echelons of power, and I would rule out any revolutionary transformations in the power system.

    As for the internal political situation in Iran, I exclude a confrontation between conservatives and liberals, as the latter are removed from the political field and I would even say knocked out. So Raisi's death will not provoke large-scale protests in Iran, also because street unrest is usually fuelled by the destructive actions of the vice police. The recent major protests over the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest for "improperly wearing hijab" showed this. Another thing is that a heavy economic factor can provoke mass unrest, which, incidentally, also took place during the years of Raisi's presidency. Let me remind you that the exchange rate of the real against the dollar fell almost threefold and inflation approached 50 per cent," Vladimir Sazhin pointed out.

    According to Russian analysts, the death of the Iranian president will not affect, among other things, the future foreign policy course of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    "I believe that IRI's policy towards Türkiye and the South Caucasus countries, particularly Azerbaijan, will remain unchanged," Sazhin concluded.


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