Home west asia President Raisi May Be Dead But For Iran It Remains Status Quo

President Raisi May Be Dead But For Iran It Remains Status Quo


President Raisi symbolised a change in Iran’s politics when he came to power. Hassan Rouhani who was his predecessor, was a reformist. Roubani negotiated the JCPOA with former US president Barack Obama 2015. As a result, the West saw him as someone they could work with.

However, Raisi who was elected in 2021 shut down that possibility. A regime insider, with close links to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he promoted religious rule in the country. Though indirect talks with the US were ongoing, there was little interest in the JCPOA or resolving anything else.

Raisi cultivates Putin and Xi

Raisi saw Iran’s future with China and Russia. President Putin called him a “true friend of Russia” in a statement released by the Kremlin. Iran was a supporter of Russia during the Ukraine war and Iranian drones and weapons were sent to Moscow.

Raisi also went out of his way to deepen Iran’s relations with China. The Iranian president visited China in 2023 to deepen the 25-year-old strategic cooperation pact. The visit was a first by an Iranian president to China in 20 years.

President Xi has called Raisi’s death “a great loss to the Iranian people.”

Women’s protests and the Gaza war

Raisi’s presidency will be remembered for two standout events. The first was the crackdown on an uprising in 2022 by Iranian women. They demanded an end to the Islamic Republic’s rule.

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The protests were triggered by the death of an Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. She was jailed for violating Iran’s strict hijab law. The protests were a severe test to the Islamic Republic’s rule.

The second is Iran’s role in Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas. Iran-backed militias attacked Israel and Iran itself directly attacked Israel on his watch. The shadow war between Iran and Israel is now out in the open.

Given that Raisi was only implementing the Supreme Leader’s directives little will change on the front. However, Raisi did present a strong image of defiance to the West,something his predecessor will have to match.

For Iran it’s status quo

Raisi was seen as a potential successor to the Supreme Leader. His replacement is not likely to enjoy the same level of confidence. Interim president Mohammad Mokhber will be in office for 50 days till presidential elections are held.

But while Khamenei may be grieving, some Iranians are seemingly celebrating. Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad tweeted on X  that “this is the only crash in history where everyone is worried if someone survived.” Fireworks and joking memes have been circulated by Iranians abroad on social media.

However, these celebrations carried out by dissident Iranians will be short lived. Mokhber is a conservative, and the new president is likely to be the same. So though the president has died, for Iran and Iranians it remains status quo.