Who is the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi? | Politics News

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has gone missing after the helicopter he was in crashed in the country’s East Azerbaijan province.

The 63-year-old political heavyweight has long been seen as the natural successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran.

Raisi, a hardline and religiously conservative politician, with an established presence with deep connections in the judiciary and the religious elite, first ran for the presidency in 2017 but failed. He was finally elected in 2021.

Early years

Raisi began studying at the renowned religious seminary of Qom at the young age of 15 and proceeded to learn under several of the leading clerics of the time.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi disappeared after a day in the east of the country, where he visited the Qiz-Qalasi Dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (West Asia News Agency via Reuters).

When he was in his early 20s, he was appointed prosecutor in successive cities until he went to the capital, Tehran, to work as a deputy prosecutor.

In 1983, he married Jamileh Alamolhoda, the daughter of the Friday prayer Imam of Mashhad, Ahmad Alamolhoda. They went on to have two daughters.

For five months in 1988, he served on a committee that oversaw a series of executions of political prisoners, a past that made him unpopular with the Iranian opposition and led to the United States imposing sanctions on him. In 1989, he was appointed prosecutor of Tehran following the death of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Raisi continued to rise through the ranks under Khomeini’s replacement, Ayatollah Khamenei, and became president of Astan Quds Razavi, Mashhad’s largest religious organization, on March 7, 2016, cementing his status in Iran’s establishment. .

Running for president

Raisi first ran for president in 2017 against Hassan Rouhani, who was running for re-election. Rouhani had overseen the negotiation of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, restricting its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Raisi, a critic of the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came from a tougher bloc than Rouhani, who was seen as a political moderate within Iran’s political system.

After his defeat, Raisi began planning his next presidential campaign. In June 2021, he won 62 percent of the vote, but the election was marred by low turnout (48.8 percent) after several reformists and moderates were prevented from running.

By then, the JCPOA was in ruins after the United States – under former President Donald Trump – unilaterally removed and reimposed sanctions on Iran, severely affecting its economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic made things worse: in August 2021 the death toll exceeded 97,000.

Connections

Raisi’s credentials in the religious establishment are strong, with strong relationships with the late Khomeini and with Khamenei, who has appointed him to several high-level positions.

He has also managed to maintain good relations with all branches of government, military and legislative, as well as with the powerful theocratic ruling class.

However, Raisi has led Iran through a time of public anger over deteriorating living standards, in part due to sanctions and what critics say has been the prioritization of defense over internal affairs.

In late 2022, public anger erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s moral police, who had arrested the 22-year-old as she left a subway station in Tehran with members of her family for alleged non-compliance. of the standards. the country’s mandatory hijab rules.

Protests rocked Iran for months, with women removing or burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in protest.

The demonstrations came to an end in mid-2023 after around 500 people were killed when security forces intervened to break up the protests, according to foreign human rights organizations. Seven people were executed for their role in the riots.

A United Nations fact-finding mission concluded in March this year that Iran committed crimes against humanity during the crackdown, including murder, torture and rape.

Iran protest
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in late 2022 sparked months of protests in Iran, eventually ending in a violent crackdown (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

confrontations

Raisi has not shied away from confrontation at the international level either.

Angered by the United States’ stance toward the JCPOA and the failure of other signatories to save the pact, Raisi defiantly announced that Iran was stepping up its nuclear program, but was not interested in a bomb.

More recently, he led Iran through a standoff with Israel as the two countries clashed over Israel’s relentless assault on Gaza, now approaching its eighth month.

Iran has been outspoken in its condemnation of Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians, as have its regional allies in the so-called “axis of resistance” to Israel and its Western allies.

In early April, the Iranian consular building in Damascus was attacked in an attack blamed on Israel, killing seven people, including a senior commander and his deputy.

For almost two weeks, each of Raisi’s statements came under intense scrutiny as the world awaited Tehran’s response. On April 15, Iran launched a well-telegraphed attack that, according to Israel’s top military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, involved more than 120 ballistic missiles, 170 drones and more than 30 cruise missiles, most of which were intercepted outside the borders of Israel. Minor damage was reported in some areas of Israel and the attack provoked a symbolic response.

The regional rivalry between Iran and Israel could also be seen in Syria, where Israel has launched multiple attacks over the years, apparently targeting Iranian military capabilities there.

People praying for the well-being of the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi.  A man at the front of the crowd has his arms outstretched.
People pray for Raisi’s well-being as news of the helicopter’s disappearance spreads (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iran has maintained a close relationship with Syria for years, backing President Bashar al-Assad since he ordered a violent response to peaceful protests in 2011, which led to 13 years of civil war. With military and tactical support, Iran has expanded its influence in Syria, while allied Lebanese group Hezbollah has also bolstered Assad’s forces.

Between continuing with established foreign policy and facing new confrontations at the national and international level, Raisi has so far proven to be a controversial president.

However, his strong relationships at all levels of the Iranian establishment have also made him a strong contender for a second term, and possibly for the country’s highest position, that of Supreme Leader.

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