Exit Raisi

The air crash needs to be probed to ascertain what went wrong

May 21, 2024


President Ebrahim Raisi has died in the line of duty. The Iranian president, who hailed from judiciary and was tipped as a successor to the Supreme Leader, was killed in a copter crash on his way back to Tehran after inaugurating a water-dam on the borders of Azerbaijan. Along with him were Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other officials, who perished in the accident primarily due to inclement weather and poor visibility. Elected in 2021, Raisi was successful in walking a tight-rope by tactfully dealing with the reformists, and at the same time making inroads into the Arab world by opening up with Saudi Arabia. He also smartly handled the IAEA, and kept the allies on his side in an attempt to go back to the nuclear understanding reached with Washington by his predecessor. His untimely exit has snowballed a conspiracy theory, hinting a finger at Israel, as Raisi had walked the talk to take on the Jewish state by flying missiles and drones last month over the Iron Dome.

The air crash needs to be probed to ascertain what went wrong. The plot thickens as two more copters accompanying the presidential carrier were home safely in the same fog and blizzard. For hours, there was a blanket of silence as aeronautical gurus were in a guessing game, and the rescue on a regional scale was clueless. Also, the concerns as to why the president flew an outdated US-made Bell 212 helicopter has raised eyebrows. Similarly, the security detail was also suspicious as to why two high profile persons, the foreign minister too, were boarding the same copter. The detailing of principal subjects with such carelessness is perplexing from a security-conscious state like Iran.

Iran is in a difficult hour, and its resilience is up for a test. A ballot cheering nation, as Iranians are, will go to the polls in 50 days to elect a new head of state. As a tribute to the fallen leadership, the system has swung in the vice-president at the helm of affairs, and it is business as usual. But getting down to the bottom to ensure that there wasn’t anything nefarious is a must.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2024.

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