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Iran Supreme Leader Raisi's Demise Raises Leadership Questions

Iran's President Raisi's tragic death in a helicopter crash on May 19 has caused significant political upheaval in the country. Raisi was on the brink of becoming the Supreme Leader, a position currently held by the 85-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi's sudden demise has sparked discussions about who will succeed Khamenei. The Supreme Leader holds the ultimate authority in the Islamic Republic.

When a president dies unexpectedly, the First Vice President assumes the presidency, pending approval from the Supreme Leader. However, this transition won't shake Iran's policies or political framework significantly. Raisi, a former prosecutor accused of involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s, was seen as a polarizing figure. His death has been met with mixed reactions, including relief from his adversaries.

The Assembly of Experts, responsible for choosing the next Supreme Leader, includes members like Raisi. This assembly plays a crucial role in Iran's political landscape. Currently, Mohammad Mokhber is serving as the acting president, and presidential elections must be held within 50 days. However, no one seems to match Raisi's stature. Whoever steps into his shoes will inherit not only a limited agenda but also a legacy of strict conservatism. According to Dr. Sanam Vakil of Chatham House, the new leader should ideally preserve the unity of traditionalists and remain loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei.