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Iran President Raisi: Days of funeral ceremonies begin as investigators probe helicopter crash


Funeral ceremonies are set to begin Tuesday for late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after he died in a helicopter crash, as authorities investigate what caused the plane to crash into the side of a remote mountain in the weather foggy Sunday morning.

Raisi’s death alongside other top officials, including the country’s foreign minister, has left the Islamic Republic’s hardline establishment facing an uncertain future as it faces growing regional tensions and internal discontent.

The Iranian government has held several days of mourning, culminating with the funeral later this week of the 63-year-old ultraconservative cleric who was once seen as a potential successor to current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Tuesday will begin with funeral prayers and a procession in the northwestern city of Tabriz, the largest city in the mountainous region of northwest Iran where the helicopter crashed, according to Mohsen Mansouri, head of the funeral planning committee and Iran’s vice president for executive affairs. .

Ali Hamed Haghdoust/Wana News Agency/Reuters

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi takes off on May 19, 2024, before the crash.

Later in the day, the bodies of the victims will be transferred to the holy Shiite city of Qom, where many of the clerics who make up Iran’s theocratic elite are trained, before heading to the capital, Tehran.

Large ceremonies are planned for Wednesday in the immense Grand Mosallah mosque in Tehran. Mansouri announced a public holiday and the closure of offices across the country that day so that processions could take place.

Raisi’s body will then be transferred to the historic Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad where Ayatollah Khamenei will lead prayers, according to Mehr News.

There is no indication what may have caused the crash – or why so many senior Iranian government officials were traveling aboard a single, decades-old helicopter.

In the first moments after Raisi’s helicopter lost contact Sunday evening, Turkey said it was monitoring whether or not the plane was giving a “signal” but could detect nothing.

“We immediately contacted the Iranian side. They also contacted us, but unfortunately it was found that the signaling system was turned off or the helicopter did not have a signaling system,” said Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Abdulkadir Uraloglu , according to Turkish public television channel TRT.

It was not clear whether he was referring to the helicopter’s transponder, which the vast majority of planes are usually equipped with.

Asked if there was a possibility of sabotage, Uraloglu said it was too early to comment on that issue and said early indications looked like an accident due to fog.

On Monday, Iranian media reported that the country’s military leader had appointed a commission to investigate the causes of the accident, which includes military and technical experts.

A high-ranking delegation will visit the crash site in eastern Azerbaijan, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

01:58 – Source: CNN

Iran mourns death of President Ebrahim Raisi

The loss of Raisi – a conservative conservative and protégé of Ayatollah Khamenei – is expected to sow further uncertainty in a country already mired in significant economic and political strain, with tensions with neighboring Israel at a dangerous level.

His death sparked both domestic and international reactions – with several of Iran’s autocratic partners sending him both condolences and enthusiastic praise. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un have all issued statements praising Raisi’s legacy and hailing him as a “friend.”

In his message, Kim described Raisi as “an outstanding statesman and a close friend of the (North Korean) people,” adding that the leader had “made great contributions to the Iranian people’s cause of safeguarding the sovereignty, development and interests of the country. their country,” according to North Korean state media KCNA.

Xi, whose government last year played a role in mediating a historic rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, praised Raisi’s “important contributions to maintaining the security and stability of the Iran and the promotion of national development and prosperity.

Azin Haghighi/Moj News Agency/AP

A photo provided by the Moj news agency shows rescuers at the scene of the helicopter crash, May 20, 2024.

“The tragic death of Raisi is a great loss for the Iranian people, and the Chinese people have also lost a good friend,” Xi said in a statement carried by Chinese state media, adding that the two countries would continue to ” consolidate and deepen” their strategy. Partnership.

Putin, who the United States believes receives support from Iran for its war in Ukraine, called the Iranian leader a “remarkable politician” and a “true friend of Russia.” Raisi made “an invaluable personal contribution” to the development of relations between the two countries, according to Putin’s statement released by the Kremlin.

The comments come as observers have pointed to loose but growing coordination of interests among Iran, China, North Korea and Russia over their shared animosity toward a global system they view as dominated by the United States and its values.

In Iran, where much of the country’s restless youth is tired of the rule of conservative clerics, Raisi has had a much more polarizing legacy.

He was widely seen as a figure in whom Iran’s hard-line establishment had invested heavily. But it also brutally suppressed a youth-led uprising against repressive laws, such as compulsory hijab, and continued to suppress dissent afterward.

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