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Iranian President Raisi is dead. What does this mean for the country and the world?

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi during the meeting with Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the UN headquarters.

Lév Radin | Light flare | Getty Images

The sudden death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash plunges Tehran into new uncertainty at a time when the country is already facing deep economic decline, popular discontent and war.

The helicopter carrying President Raisi suffered a hard landing on Sunday while returning from Azerbaijan in bad weather conditions, Iranian state media reported Monday. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also died in the accident.

All eyes are now on the future of this Middle Eastern power, which is home to nearly 90 million people and whose government supports a number of regional proxy groups, including Hamas in Gaza, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen.

Some analysts expect some degree of continuity, while noting that this could present an opportunity for Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to gain even more control over the country’s political leadership.

Elected in the summer of 2021 amid the lowest turnout ever recorded for an Iranian national election, Raisi was a radical right-winger seen as a potential successor to the Islamic Republic’s 85-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. years. His death now triggers a pre-ordained succession process that allows current Vice President Mohammed Mokhber to assume the interim presidency and hold elections within the next 50 days.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi dies in helicopter crash, state media confirms

Elections in Iran considered not free, because the powerful and ultra-conservative Council of Guardians ultimately decides who is allowed to vote in the first place.

“What we have seen in recent years is actually a power struggle between the IRGC and other conservative factions,” Nader Itayim, Middle East Gulf editor at Argus Media, told Capital on Monday. CNBC Connection.

Over the next 50 days of the interim presidency, the IRGC’s role in the upper echelons of Iranian power “is going to remain intact and even potentially intensify,” Itayim said. “This interim presidency… will potentially pave the way for even greater IRGC control over policies.”

The relationship with Israel and the United States

But most importantly, “Iran is not going to change course just because of this,” when it comes to foreign and domestic policy, Itayim said.

“As far as relations with the United States, and probably (with) Israel, nothing is really going to change. There are broader issues at play between those countries and those are likely to remain, those are issues deeply rooted.”

Iran has refused to maintain formal diplomatic relations with the United States and refused to recognize the state of Israel for decades, and remains under the weight of harsh U.S. and Western sanctions. Attempts to advance negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal have repeatedly failed during Joe Biden’s presidency. Amid Israel’s war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Iran have exchanged barrages of missiles and drones, putting the region at risk and stoking fears of a wider war in the Middle-East.

The death of Iran's president and foreign minister is not expected to significantly change the country's foreign policy

Raisi’s death “comes at a difficult time for Iran,” according to Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, but the world should still expect continuity as the presidency Iran is not where state power actually resides. .

“The president is nominally number two within the Iranian state, but he does not have the same kind of independence and ability to maneuver as the president and many Western democracies. He serves at the behest of the guide Supreme Court of Iran,” Vakil said Monday.

“It also does not have independent authority in matters of foreign policy,” she added. “So his death will be more a matter of filling his place and finding someone to step in and maintain cohesion within the system.”

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