Iran Gets New Leader, Tinubu Mourns Raisi

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Iran Gets New Leader, Tinubu Mourns Raisi

CHIGOZIE  AMADI

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday 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.

Raisi and the country’s foreign minister were found dead in the early hours of yesterday after their helicopter crashed on Sunday, leaving the Islamic Republic without two key leaders.

Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, quickly named Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber, to assume interim duties and announced five days of mourning thereafter.

State media confirmed they were killed after the helicopter they were travelling in came down. Raisi, 63, had been tipped as a potential successor to the supreme leader.

It was initially reported that the helicopter carrying the men and their entourage had made a hard landing in foggy conditions. The area where the aircraft came down is close to the border with Azerbaijan, where Raisi had been meeting President Ilham Aliyev.

According to local media he was there to open the Qiz Qalasi and Khodaafarin dams.

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

Iranian news outlet Tasnim, which is affiliated to the country’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, reported that Raisi’s funeral will be held on Tuesday (today ) in Tabriz.

Raisi, 63, was a hard-line cleric and his election as president in 2021 consolidated the control of conservatives over every part of the Islamic Republic. In a statement following his death, the Iranian government said it would continue to operate “without disruption”.

The crash killed all eight people aboard a Bell 212 helicopter that Iran purchased in the early 2000s, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Iran has flown Bell helicopters extensively since the shah’s era. But aircraft in Iran face a shortage of parts because of Western sanctions, and often fly without safety checks.

There are 15 Bell 212 helicopters with an average age of 35 years currently registered in Iran that could be in active use or in storage, according to aviation data firm Cirium.

State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. Footage released by IRNA showed the crash site, across a steep valley in a green mountain range.

US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, said the country continues to monitor the situation surrounding the “very unfortunate helicopter crash” but has no insight into the cause. “I don’t necessarily see any broader regional security impacts at this point in time,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement released by the Kremlin, described Raisi “as a true friend of Russia,” while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, China’s Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar Assad also offered condolences.

But Tinubu, in a release issued on yesterday by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, expressed profound grief over this disturbing tragedy, and described  Raisi as a leader who was passionately committed to the development of Iran.

While commiserating with the families of the bereaved,  Tinubu prayed for the continuous peace, stability, and prosperity of the Iranian nation.

On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, the president assured the Islamic Republic of Nigeria’s support and prayers in this moment of grief.