Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Iranian President Killed in Helicopter Crash

Iran’s president and foreign minister were killed when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous terrain in East Azerbaijan province on Sunday.

President Ebrahim Raisi’s death led many to speculate who will eventually replace Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneri, whose ill health has garnered the focus of many.

In response to the incident, Khamenei named a lesser known vice president as caretaker. He also insisted that the incident will not disrupt the Islamic Republic as the government is still in control. However, the deaths of the two key leaders has undoubtedly marked yet another blow to the country, which was already under pressure.

drone video
A screenshot from a drone video shows the crash site of the helicopter

While Iran has not offered an official cause for the crash, it’s believed that the helicopter fell due to a sudden, intense fog in the mountainous terrain.

In the country’s capital, businesses and schools remained open on Monday. However, there was a noticeable increase in security forces – both those in uniforms and plain clothes.

In the evening, hundreds of mourners made their way into Vali-e-Asr square waving Palestinian flags and holding pictures of Raisi. Many were visibly crying while holding onto prayer beads. Large groups of women also gathered holding posters of the dead president.

The tragic incident comes as the country is going through the Israel-Hamas war.

Hamas, backed by Iran, initiated the attack that started the war last October. Tehran-backed Hazbollah has also launched rockets toward Israel.

Just a few weeks ago, Iran fired unprecedented drone-and-missles at Israel.

Raisi, who was considered Khamenei’s protege, oversaw the the deterioration of the country’s relations with the west as Iran supplied bomb-carrying drones and weapons to Russia for the Ukraine-Russia war.

mourners
Many women gathered in the city to mourn President Raisi’s death

According to a state-run news agency, the helicopter crashed killed all eight people abord the helicopter, a Bell 212 that the country had obtained back in the early 2002.

In addition to President Raisi, the crash also claimed the lives of Hossdein Amirabdollahian, the foreign minister of Iran, a senior cleric, a governer of East Azerbaijan provice, a guard official, in addition to three crew members.

Since the Shah’s era, the country has flown these types of helicopters exclusively. However, Iran has been experiencing a shortage of parts due to sanctions from the west, meaning they often go into the air without proper safety checks.

Because of that, Mohammed Javad Zarif, the former foreign minister of Iran, blames the incident on the United States.

mourning According to aviation data, there are currently fifteen Bell 212 helicopters in operations in Iran, the majority of which are 35 years old.

Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary for the U.S. said they will continue to monitor the situation surrounding the ‘tragic and unfortunate crash’. However, he noted that it will likely not cause any ‘regional security impacts’ at this time.

John Kirby, the national security spokesman for the White House also said the death of the Iranian leader is not expected to have any significant impact on the relations between the United States and Iran.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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