What’s next for Iran after the death of President Raisi? | Explanatory news

Iranian authorities have now confirmed the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

After a desperate nighttime search for the plane in the rugged terrain where it had crashed, rescuers finally found the crash site and recovered the bodies of all eight people on board.

Al Jazeera takes a closer look at what the plans are for his funeral and what’s next for Iran.

When will the funerals be?

The bodies of Raisi, 63, Amirabdollahian, 60, and the other officials and staff were taken to Tabriz, the capital of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, and a public procession was held.

Another ceremony will be held on Tuesday morning, when the funeral rites and transfer of the bodies to Tehran will begin.

Another procession and other ceremonies will be held in the capital, the details of which have yet to be finalized.

Organizers in Mashhad said they are planning a “glorious” burial for Raisi, who was born in the Shiite holy city in northeastern Iran and was custodian of his powerful bonyad, or charitable foundation, which operates the shrine.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has announced five days of public mourning.

Who will become president and foreign minister of Iran?

Mohammad Mokhber and Ali Bagheri Kani are now acting president and foreign minister, respectively, and can be replaced once a new president is elected.

But both are likely to remain at the highest levels of government, if not in their new positions, having been pillars of the Raisi administration, which was often praised by (and is closely aligned with) Khamenei.

What does this mean for Iran?

Iran will now have to hold elections and elect a new president within 50 days, according to the country’s constitution, about a year earlier than planned.

State media have reported that the elections will take place on June 28 and that candidates will register between May 30 and June 3.

Raisi won the presidency by a long shot in 2021, amid widespread disqualification of reformist and moderate candidates and record turnout.

Considering the fact that all Iranian presidents who have served under Khamenei had served two terms, Raisi was widely expected to win re-election next year.

“The judiciary, the legislative branch and the executive branch are currently controlled by the most right-wing conservatives in Iran,” said Reza H Akbari, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. , he told Al Jazeera.

“Therefore, some analysts believe that Raisi’s death may open space for more traditional conservative (candidates) to try to become president.”

How important was Raisi in Iran?

Khamenei has been supreme leader since 1989, but as he is 85 years old and has suffered health problems in recent years, the question of who will replace him as head of state has become more prominent in Iran. Raisi’s name had been proposed as a candidate, along with that of Khamenei’s own son, Mojtaba, 55. However, some analysts say Raisi was never likely to ascend to Iran’s top job.

“Raisi was a weak president, but he was loyal and the most loyal option…. the Supreme Leader was able to find,” said Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin.

At the same time, his conservative background “gave him a certain level of support from government supporters and within the elites,” Azizi said.

Raisi had not commented on the possibility of succeeding Khamenei. But the president, who was rarely criticized by conservative politicians, would surely play a role in shaping Iran’s future.

Mojtaba Khamenei, on the other hand, is a cleric with close ties to the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who rarely appears or speaks in public.

“The political infighting that ensues after the death of the supreme leader will likely be too chaotic for us to predict,” Akbari said.

Will this change Iran’s international policies?

Raisi and Amirabdollahian had spent nearly three years establishing themselves as the faces of Iran on the world stage, but their passing probably does not signal a major shift in Iran’s foreign policy.

The Iranian political establishment has a more or less unified view of Iran’s international policies.

Interim President Mohammad Mokhber has focused primarily on local issues, from navigating policy to managing efforts to stabilize Iran’s perennially sanctioned economy.

But he also accompanied the president, or led delegations himself, on trips abroad from China and Russia to a tour of Africa.

Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has been Iran’s chief negotiator in nuclear talks with world powers. It is unclear whether he has the same strong ties to the Iran-aligned regional “axis of resistance” that Amirabdollahian had.

“Policies will not change dramatically,” Akbari said. “Iran’s National Security Council, the supreme leader, and when it comes to certain foreign policy files, the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), bureaucratically and institutionally speaking, set Iran’s foreign policy agenda.”

Will there be a difference in Iran’s domestic politics?

The passing of Raisi and Amirabdollahian could imply some changes in Iran’s internal power politics. But the establishment is now governed by conservative and hardline political camps, and any potential power struggle is expected to occur within those ranks, with reformists out of the picture.

The IRGC has steadily grown stronger since reformers and moderates were rejected following the collapse of the nuclear deal and the reimposition of sanctions on Iran. And hardline factions have refused to budge following the wave of anti-government protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in 2022.

Many appointments since 2021 have involved IRGC staff, and Mokhber – or the next president – ​​is unlikely to reverse that trend. The last major appointment came in May 2023, when Khamenei selected IRGC commander Ali Akbar Ahmadian as Iran’s new security chief.

What about Iran’s regional networks?

Iran’s growing support for the “resistance axis” of political and military groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen, has spanned a decades-long strategic policy that will not change with Raisi’s death. or Amirabdollahian.

His successors will be responsible for developing an effective public image of collaboration and support for Axis members, while maintaining lines of communication with the United States and European powers.

This is especially important amid Israel’s war on Gaza, which threatens the region and has pitted Iran and the Axis against Israel and its allies.

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