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World leaders react as Raisi is laid to rest today

Iranians are mourning the death of President Ebrahim Raisi who was killed in a helicopter crash along with his foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian in a…

Iranians are mourning the death of President Ebrahim Raisi who was killed in a helicopter crash along with his foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian in a mountainous and forested area in the country’s East Azerbaijan province amid dense fog. Six other people in the helicopter, including crew members, were also killed.

The late president, alongside his entourage, was returning to Tehran from a ceremony to inaugurate a dam on Iran’s border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Mr Raisi, 63, was a hardline cleric and his election as president in 2021 consolidated the control of conservatives over every part of the Islamic Republic.

 On Monday, the Iranian Red Crescent confirmed that the bodies of the president and others who died in the crash had been recovered and search operations had ended.

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Iranian news outlet Tasnim, which is affiliated with the country’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, reported that President Ebrahim Raisi’s funeral will be held today (Tuesday) 9:30 Iran time in Tabriz.

 Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei declared five days of national mourning following the death of President Raisi.

 In a message issued on Monday morning, Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his great sadness over the death of President Raisi in the incident that took place in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province a day earlier.

 ‘US, Israel culpable’

Iran state TV said the helicopter crashed into a mountain. While there is no official statement on the cause, images of the crash site captured by ISNA, Iran’s state students’ news agency, showed heavy fog lingering over the area.

Multiple outlets, including Reuters, said the helicopter was a US-manufactured Bell 212, a model that first entered service in 1968 and stopped being made in 1998.

Iran’s former Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the US sanctions — which prohibit Iran from purchasing US-built aircraft — could be partly to blame.

In a phone interview with state TV on Monday, Zarif said the sanctions prevent Iran from having good aviation facilities.

“One of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States, which … embargoed the sale of aircraft and aviation parts to Iran and does not allow the people of Iran to enjoy good aviation facilities,” Zarif said.

The US has imposed various sanctions against Iran since the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Economic sanctions, including those targeting the aviation industry, were reinstated in 2018 after the US withdrew from its nuclear deal.

According to the Washington Institute, a US think tank, Iranian airlines are prohibited from purchasing aircraft that contain more than 10% US parts.

 Military chief orders probe

Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s Military Chief of Staff, has ordered an investigation into the cause of the helicopter crash, according to the ISNA news agency.

Bagheri ordered “A high-ranking committee to launch an investigation into the cause of the president’s helicopter crash”, the report said.

 Interim leader sworn-in, holds 1st cabinet meeting

Mohammad Mokhber, Iran’s first Vice President, has been appointed as Acting President of the Islamic Republic. He is expected to serve as caretaker president for some 50 days before a mandatory presidential election for a new Iranian president.

The interim president, in his maiden cabinet meeting, said the country would continue moving forward despite the death of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s veteran nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, a harsh critic of the West, was also named acting foreign minister to replace the top diplomat killed in the crash.

Bagheri, 56, had served as deputy to the late foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

 Tinubu, world leaders react  

President Bola Tinubu has extended his condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi, Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials in a helicopter crash.

 Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity in a statement said President Tinubu expressed profound grief over the disturbing tragedy, and described President Raisi as a leader who was passionately committed to the development of Iran.

 “On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, the President assures the Islamic Republic of Nigeria’s support and prayers in this moment of grief.”

 Similarly, several world leaders, regional bodies and organisations have expressed their condolences following President Raisi’s death.

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “saddened” by the deaths of Raisi and his colleagues, according to his spokesperson. The Members of the UN Security Council observed a minute of silence in memory of Raisi and his colleagues killed in the crash.

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also expressed his condolences to the people of Iran.

“Asking God Almighty for mercy and forgiveness for [those killed] and for their families with patience and solace. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return,” he wrote on X.

 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was “In full contact and co-ordination with the Iranian authorities” and was ready to “provide any necessary support”.

 Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences and said the president and foreign minister were “true, reliable friends of our country”, while China’s President Xi Jinping said Mr Raisi had contributed to Iran’s security and stability.

 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced a day of mourning over the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

The African Union (AU), in a statement issued Monday, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, expressed his deep shock and sadness over the tragic passing of the Iranian president, the country’s foreign minister and their companions.

The European Union (EU) expressed its “sincere condolences” and European Council President Charles Michel said “our thoughts go to the families”.

 Palestinian group Hamas praised Mr Raisi’s support of the Palestinians, while the Tehran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon said it was mourning the death of its protector.

 Israel could be fingered – Ex-diplomat

 Meanwhile, in an interview with Daily Trust on Monday ‘ex-diplomat’ Ambassador Suleiman Dahiru said Israel couldn’t be exempted from being underhand in the crash.

 “It may be from within or from outside Iran. Israel has already come out to say it’s not involved. So, it might be feeling that some fingers will be pointing at it. Whatever happens, we shouldn’t discount Israel. The reason is that you remember when General Soleimani was killed at Baghdad airport some years ago, it’s not an insider’s job. It’s from outside. Most likely a collaboration between Israel and America.

 “So, if there’s going to be any serious investigation, maybe something will come out of the investigation to point in the direction of who may be the culprit.”


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