Iranian president, foreign minister die in helicopter crash

Tehran on Monday confirmed the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials in a helicopter crash in the country’s northern East Azerbaijan province.

Deputy President for Executive Affairs Mohsen Mansouri said in a statement on his X that all on board, including the president, foreign minister, accompanying delegation, and helicopter crew, died.

The helicopter that crashed on Sunday afternoon was also carrying East Azerbaijan Province Governor Malik Rahmeti, and Tabriz Province Imam Ayatollah Ali Hashim.

Dozens of emergency rescue teams had been dispatched to the mountainous area, and wreckage was found after hours of search operation in which a Turkish Akinci drone helped to locate the crash site.

Political journey of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

Known as a jurist and religious figure, the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was born on December 14, 1960, in Mashhad. Following the 1979 revolution, he began his career as a prosecutor in 1981.

Rising swiftly in his position, Raisi became Deputy Prosecutor General of Tehran at the young age of 25.

Raisi was part of a 4-member committee that, under the instruction of Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the death sentences for regime opponents imprisoned in 1988.

After Khomeini’s death and during Ali Khamenei’s tenure, Raisi rapidly climbed the ranks in state offices. He served as Tehran’s prosecutor general from 1989 to 1994.

In 1994, Raisi was appointed as the head of the State Inspectorate Organization, a position he held for 10 years.

In 2004, Raisi was appointed as the first deputy chief of the judiciary. He later became Iran’s attorney general in 2014 and was appointed as the head of the Imam Reza Shrine and Foundation in Mashhad by Khamenei in 2016.

Raisi also ran as a candidate in the presidential elections held on May 19, 2017, but lost to the then-incumbent President Hassan Rouhani.

Following the dismissal of Ayatollah Amoli Larijani from the judiciary chief position and his appointment as the head of the Expediency Discernment Council by Khamenei, Raisi assumed the vacant position of judiciary chief in March 2019.

In the presidential elections held on June 18, 2021, Raisi won by a large margin, securing 62% of the votes, thus becoming Iran’s 8th president.

Earlier on Monday, President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their companions were declared dead after their helicopter crashed in northwestern Iran’s East Azerbaijan province on Sunday afternoon.

Who was late Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian?

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, noted for his conservative position, became Iran’s foreign minister in August 2021, after Mohammad Javad Zarif, whom he had previously served as deputy for three years.

President Ebrahim Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian and their companions were declared dead after their helicopter crashed in northwestern Iran’s East Azerbaijan province on Sunday afternoon.

The former foreign minister was born in 1964 and graduated from Tehran University with a degree in international relations in 1991. Besides his native Persian language, he was also fluent in Arabic, and English. He served as ambassador to Bahrain during the tenure of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Amir-Abdollahian later served as the deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs during the terms of both Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani.

Before becoming foreign minister, he held the position of Special Assistant for International Relations to Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

During his tenure as foreign minister, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in March 2023 following seven years of tensions between the two countries.

With Raisi’s death in chopper crash, who will be Iran’s new president?

According to the Iranian Constitution, the first Vice President – Mohammad Mokhber – will now take over as the new president of the country for 50 days.

During this period, a high-powered council comprising the first vice president, the Speaker of Parliament and the chief of the judiciary have to make sure new elections are held.

Article 131 of the Iranian Constitution stipulates this, in the event of the death or illness of the sitting president.

“In the event of the death, removal, resignation, absence or illness of the president for more than two months, or in the event that the term of the presidency has ended and the new president has not yet been elected due to obstacles, the first vice president assumes his powers and responsibilities with the agreement of the leadership, and a council consisting of the speaker of the parliament, the head of the judiciary and the first vice president is obliged to arrange for early presidential elections to be held within a maximum period of fifty days,” says the article.

Wreckage of helicopter carrying Iran’s president located as rescue efforts continue

The Iranian Red Crescent Society announced early Monday that they had found the location of the wreckage of President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter after it was detected by a Turkish Akinci unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Speaking to local media, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said that two kilometers are left to reach the area where the wreckage is located.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA also confirmed the finding.

The news was posted on IRNA’s Telegram account.

“The location of the President’s helicopter has been found. Search and rescue teams approached the place where the accident occurred,” the agency said.

Türkiye’s Akinci UAV identifies the location of the crash site of Iranian president’s helicopter

After the helicopter carrying Raisi crashed, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense assigned an Akinci UAV and a Cougar type helicopter with night vision capabilities to participate in search activities.

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