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The Implications of Raisi’s Passing on Iran’s Tomorrow

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi passed away on Sunday following a helicopter crash in the mountainous regions of northern Iran. The tragic incident, which also claimed the lives of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other senior Iranian officials, has cast uncertainty over the future of Iran and the broader region.

The crash occurred while the delegation was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, with dense fog hampering search and rescue efforts for several hours before the wreckage was located. European Union satellites were enlisted to aid in the search due to the severe weather conditions.

Raisi’s death marks the end of a brief yet impactful chapter in Iranian politics, characterized by a shift towards hardline policies and heightened tensions in the Middle East. During his tenure, Iran adopted more conservative domestic and social policies, positioning itself as a staunch adversary of the United States and its allies in the region.

As a close ally of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a potential successor to the supreme leader, Raisi accelerated Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and took a confrontational stance in international negotiations, particularly after the U.S. withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018.

Under Raisi’s leadership, Iran also supported Russia in its conflict with Ukraine, escalated proxy attacks against the U.S. and Israel, and engaged in direct military actions, including a significant drone and missile strike against Israel shortly before his death.

Although Raisi’s successor remains uncertain, experts believe that Iran’s strategic direction is unlikely to change significantly, given the consensus among the country’s political and clerical leadership. The constitutional succession process dictates that First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will assume presidential duties temporarily until elections can be organized.

Raisi’s legacy is marked by allegations of human rights abuses, including his involvement in the execution of thousands of dissidents in 1988 and the crackdown on dissent during his presidency, exemplified by the controversial death of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

With Iran facing potential political upheaval and succession challenges, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) could emerge as a key player in shaping the country’s future, leveraging its influence within the military and the economy.

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