Iranian President died in helicopter crash - ForumDaily
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Iranian President dies in helicopter crash

On May 19, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister and other officials were killed in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area near the border with Azerbaijan, reports Yahoo.

Small helicopter landing with engine fire


“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all passengers on the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official said.

Raisi, 63, was a hardliner and long seen as a potential successor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Raisi was returning from the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, which is on the border with Azerbaijan. There, he and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev participated in the commissioning ceremony of a dam on the border Araks River.

The crash killed eight people, including three crew members aboard the Bell helicopter, which Iran acquired in the early 2000s.

The passengers of the helicopter were the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Governor of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan Malik Rahmeti and the Ayatollah of the Tabriz province Ali Hashim, reports with the BBC.

Khamenei announced on May 20 that Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will serve as the country's acting president until new elections are held within 50 days.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed that the affairs of the Iranian government, no matter what, will continue.

Why did the helicopter crash?

Footage from the crash site shows the aircraft crashing into a mountain peak. There is no official information yet about the cause of the plane crash.

Two of the three helicopters in the convoy reached their destination safely, along with other Iranian ministers: Energy - Ali Akbar Mehrabian, Roads and Urban Development - Mehrdad Bazarpasha.

Planes in Iran face shortages of spare parts and often fly without safety checks amid Western sanctions. For this reason, former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tried to blame the United States for the disaster in an interview on May 20.

“One of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States. They have placed an embargo on the sale of aircraft and aircraft parts to Iran and are not allowing the people of Iran to enjoy good aviation capabilities,” Zarif said. “This will be added to the list of US crimes against the Iranian people.”

The White House said US President Joe Biden had been briefed on the crash.

Condolences began pouring in from neighbors and allies after Iran confirmed there were no survivors from the crash. Pakistan declared a day of mourning. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X that his country "stands with Iran in this time of sorrow."

The leaders of Egypt and Jordan also expressed condolences, as did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Lebanon and Syria declared three days of mourning.

Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev said he and his government were “deeply shocked.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed their condolences. Russian President Vladimir Putin called Raisi a “true friend of Russia” in a statement released by the Kremlin.

What is known about Raisi

In the lowest turnout presidential election in the history of the Islamic Republic, Raisi won in 2021. Since taking office, he has decided to tighten morality laws. The new leader oversaw a crackdown on anti-government protests and actively promoted nuclear negotiations with world powers.

The Iranian president was under American sanctions, including over the 1988 executions of political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

Under Raisi's leadership, Iran enriched uranium. Iran, as defined by the International Agency on atomic energy (IAEA), possesses uranium, enriched to 60% weapons-grade purity, sufficient to create three atomic bombs. This further exacerbated tensions with the West. Tehran, among other things, supplied Russia with drone bombers for the war in Ukraine, and also led the recent massive attack drones and missiles on Israel. He continued to arm groups in the Middle East - Yemen's Houthi rebels and the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah.

Iranian authorities have faced mass protests against their Shiite theocracy for years over a weak economy and women's rights.

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The most recent protest stems from the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini. She was detained for allegedly not wearing a hijab, according to authorities. Amini died in the pre-trial detention center. As a result of the months-long repression that followed the demonstrations, more than 500 people were killed and over 22 were detained.

A UN commission of inquiry found that Iran was responsible for the "physical violence" that led to Amini's death.

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