Ebrahim Raisi was near the height of power in the Islamic Republic and was widely tipped to rise to its top.

A dramatic turn of events dealt him a different hand.

His death in a helicopter crash on Sunday upended growing speculation about who will ultimately replace 85-year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose own health has long been the focus of intense interest.

The tragic fate of Iran’s hardline president is not expected to upset the direction of Iranian politics or shake the Islamic Republic in any consequential way.

But it will test a system where hard-line conservatives now dominate all branches of power, both elected and unelected.

“The system will make a huge display of his death and follow constitutional procedures to show functionality, while searching for a new recruit who can maintain conservative unity and loyalty to Khamenei,” notes Dr. Sanam Vakil, director of Middle East and North from Africa. program at the Chatham House think tank.

Raisi’s opponents will welcome the departure of a former prosecutor accused of a decisive role in the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s, which he denied; they hope that the end of his government will hasten the end of this regime.

For conservatives in power in Iran, the state funeral will be an emotionally charged occasion; It will also be an opportunity to start sending your signals of continuity.

They know the world is watching.

“For about 40 years, in Western narratives, Iran was supposed to collapse and fall apart,” Professor Mohammed Marandi of the University of Tehran told the BBC.

“But somehow, miraculously, it’s still here and I predict it will still be here for years to come.”

Another critical position that must be filled is the seat occupied by this middle-ranking cleric in the Assembly of Experts, the body empowered to choose the new supreme leader, when this much more consequential transition arrives.

“Raisi was a potential successor because, like Khamenei himself when he became supreme leader, he was relatively young, very loyal, an ideologue committed to the system and with a recognized name”, says Dr. Vakil about this opaque selection process , where several names are in contention, including the Supreme Leader’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei.

Even before Raisi’s death was officially confirmed, the Ayatollah conveyed in a publication on X that “the Iranian people should not worry, there will be no disturbances in the country’s affairs”.

The most immediate political challenge will be the holding of early presidential elections.

Power was transferred to Vice President Mohammad Mokhber; new elections must be held within 50 days.

This appeal to voters will come just months after March’s parliamentary elections revealed record turnout in a country that once prided itself on its strong and enthusiastic participation in this exercise.

Recent elections, including the 2021 contest that brought Raisi to the presidency, have also been marked by the oversight body’s systematic exclusion of moderate and pro-reform rivals.

“Early presidential elections could provide Khamenei and the top echelons of the state with an opportunity to reverse this trajectory to give voters a path back into the political process,” says Mohammad Ali Shabani, editor of the Amwaj.media news website, based in London.

“But unfortunately, so far we have seen no indication that the State is ready and willing to take such action.”

But even within Raisi’s ranks, there appears to be no obvious successor.

“There are different camps within this conservative group, including individuals who are more hard-line and others considered more pragmatic,” highlights Hamidreza Azizi, visiting fellow at SWP, the Berlin-based think tank.

He believes this will intensify the current struggle for position within the new parliament and at local level.

Whoever takes on Raisi’s mantle inherits a prohibitive agenda and limited levers of power.

Final decision-making authority in the Islamic Republic rests with the Supreme Leader.

Foreign policy, especially in the region, is reserved for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which wields growing power.

The president did not make the decisions months ago when Iran faced unprecedented tensions with its archenemy Israel over the devastating war between Israel and Gaza.

It triggered a dangerous retaliation and raised the alarm in many capitals, especially in Tehran, about the potential for an increasingly risky spiral.

But while he presided over day-to-day affairs, Iranians struggled to deal with deepening financial difficulties associated with crippling international sanctions, as well as mismanagement and corruption.

Inflation soared to over 40%; the rial currency plummeted in value.

Under his command, the Islamic Republic has also been rocked by an extraordinary wave of protests triggered by the death in custody in September 2022 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Will.

Weeks before the riots, Raisi ordered a tightening of Iran’s “hijab and chastity law,” which forced women to behave and dress modestly, including wearing a headscarf.

But the protests led by a young generation of women, attacking a series of restrictions imposed on their lives, mainly focused their fury on the real sources of power, on the Supreme Leader and on the system itself.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed in the crackdown and thousands have been detained.

“Having been elected with the lowest turnout recorded in presidential elections in Iranian history, Raisi did not have the popular mandate of his predecessor Rouhani,” says Shabani in reference to reformist leader Hassan Rouhani, whose initial popularity was partly fueled by the 2015 nuclear milestone . agreement that collapsed when President Trump unilaterally withdrew the US three years later.

Indirect talks between President Biden’s administration and Raisi’s team have made little progress.

“He avoided much of the ire directed at Rouhani by opponents of the Islamic Republic, in part because he was simply seen as less influential and effective,” explains Shabani.

The crash also killed Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The helicopter crash also claimed the life of Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who played an active role in trying to present Tehran’s case to the world and find ways to alleviate the punishing impact of sanctions.

During the urgent diplomacy surrounding the Israel-Gaza war, he was the voice on the phone and the face in meetings with Iran’s allies as well as Arab and Western foreign ministers eager to calm and contain tensions.

“He was a useful conduit for transmitting messages,” commented a senior Western diplomatic source. “But it tended to be quite formulaic, as the power was not in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

“The sudden death of a president is normally a consequential event, but despite being seen as a potential Supreme Leader, he lacked political support and any clear political vision,” says analyst Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, CEO of think tank Bourse and Bazaar. “But the political operators who elected him will adjust and move forward without him.”

With information from the BBC.

Source: https://www.ocafezinho.com/2024/05/20/o-que-acontecera-no-ira-apos-a-morte-de-raisi/

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