Uncertainty Surrounds Helicopter Crash That Killed Iranian President

(RepublicanJournal.org) – Iran has been embroiled in its fair share of controversy over the past few years. President Ebrahim Raisi rose to power in 2021, with 63% of the vote after losing an election in 2017. In 2022, the country was rocked with protests after the so-called morality police reportedly killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. His relationship with the US was contentious at best as his country sought to enrich uranium and supplied Russia with attack drones. On Monday, May 20, he was aboard a helicopter when it crashed, killing everyone on it.

Per state media, the crash happened in a mountainous region near the Azerbaijan border. Poor weather conditions, including heavy fog, were to blame. The accident led to an hours-long search in blizzard conditions, after which officials found the charred wreckage of a Bell 212 helicopter, one that had been in service for decades.

The aircraft was regularly purchased in the past, but Western sanctions made it difficult to buy new ones and replacement parts in recent years. Mohammad Javad Zarif, a former Iranian foreign minister, put part of the blame for Raisi’s death on the US for not “allow[ing] the people of Iran to enjoy good aviation facilities.”

There were several other officials onboard the aircraft when it crashed, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a senior cleric from Tabriz city, and the East Azerbaijan Province governor. Three crew members and a Revolutionary Guard official also died.

Raisi’s death raised the question of who would lead the country. A hardliner, he was seen as the eventual successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. For now, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is serving as acting president until an election can be held to fill the role.

Other questions have been raised regarding the main culprit of the crash. Col. Steve Ganyard gave his insight on the crash as a ex-fighter pilot and US official, speculating on the possibilities for the occurrence of the fatal accident.

During his interview with ABC, Ganyard explains how hazardous weather could have definitely contributed to the death of the president of Iran as well as the others on board, however, he also does not rule out Israel somehow being involved when asked. He does not believe that Raisi’s death will lead to a drastic change politically for Iran.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby echoed his sentiment, saying the death of Iran’s president is not expected to have an immediate impact on US-Iran relations either.

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