Iranian President Raisi was believed to be Supreme Leader-in-waiting before his death, complicating succession

Former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

The unexpected death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will likely significantly impact the succession of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported.

Raisi was widely considered one of the top contenders to replace Khomeini after Iran's Supreme Leader appointed him head of the judiciary in 2019 and backed his bid for the presidency in 2021.

The coming days could alter the regime's immediate and long-term dynamics, including the Supreme Leader succession, ISW believes.

Read also: Iranian President Raisi is confirmed dead after helicopter crash

Raisi's death is unlikely to change the regime's current trajectory toward more stringent domestic policies, however, not its more aggressive regional stance.

Following Raisi's death, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is expected to temporarily serve as acting president.

Parliamentary Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and judiciary chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei will have 50 days to organize a new presidential election.

Read also: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi believed to have died after his helicopter found completely burned

Mokhber headed the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order (EIKO), a semi-governmental organization directly controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini, from 2007 to 2021.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Mokhber and EIKO in January 2021.

Khomeini holds the highest decision-making authority in Iran, but Raisi wielded substantial power within the regime.

Raisi served as the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the body constitutionally responsible for overseeing the Supreme Leader and selecting his successor.

Raisi was re-elected as the representative of South Khorasan Province in the Assembly of Experts during the recent elections in March 2024. He was also a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, head of the Supreme National Security Council, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, and the Supreme Cyberspace Council.

The helicopter accident of the Iranian President

The helicopter carrying Raisi was believed to have crashed, Iranian media reported on May 19.

Some of the president's companions traveling with him on the helicopter had managed to contact the center, raising hopes that there might be survivors, media initially reported.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan Province, and other officials flew with Raisi, IRNA news agency reported.

Iranian officials had been able to contact two people on board the presidential helicopter, an official told CNN after it became known that Raisi had crashed.

They initially declared that the plane crash was "not serious."

The helicopter of the Iranian President was completely burned during the accident, Reuters reportedon May 20, citing an Iranian official.

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