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ISW: Raisi’s death would have serious implications for supreme leader succession

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi could seriously impact the succession plan for the country’s supreme leader, ISW reports, but added, it would ultimately not change the Iranian regime’s current trajectory
iranian president death 2024
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vs screenshot from the video of the crashed helicopter, May 2024. Credit: NDTV World
ISW: Raisi’s death would have serious implications for supreme leader succession

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 20 May that the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would have serious implications for the succession of the country’s supreme leader.

However, Raisi’s demise would ultimately not alter the current trajectory of the Iranian regime, according to the ISW.

According to the analysts, together with the Supreme Leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, Raisi was considered one of the leading contenders to succeed Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader. The report states that Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of the judiciary in 2019 and backed Raisi during the presidential elections in August 2021.

The next few days could change the regime’s current and long-term dynamics, including the succession of the Supreme Leader. However, ISW reported that Raisi’s death would ultimately not change the regime’s current trajectory toward a more hardline and conservative domestic policy and a more aggressive regional policy.

According to analysts, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will temporarily serve as acting president under Iran’s constitution. Mokhber, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and Judiciary Chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni Eje’i will have 50 days to organize presidential elections.

The report reminds us that while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has the authority to make decisions in Iran, Raisi still holds significant power in the regime as the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for monitoring the Supreme Leader and choosing his successor.

On the morning of 20 May, Iran officially confirmed the deaths of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, aged 63, and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as a result of a helicopter crash in the mountainous province of East Azerbaijan.

The helicopter, carrying nine people, crashed on 19 May in heavy fog while returning from a flight to the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, Iranian officials said. The crash triggered an hours-long search and rescue operation backed by the European Union and Türkiye, but rescuers were hampered by fog and low temperatures.

Raisi was the second most influential person in the Islamic Republic’s political structure after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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