On 19 May 2024, President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and six others died in a helicopter crash in a rural forested area near the village of Uzi in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, located close to the border with Azerbaijan. The discovery of their bodies followed a 16-hour search for their crashed Bell 212 helicopter amid dense fog and heavy rainfall, which restricted visibility and the passage of vehicles. The Iranian Red Crescent reported that the crash site lacked telecommunications service and suffered from extremely low visibility, which significantly impeded search efforts. Raisi was returning from Azerbaijan after jointly inaugurating a dam on the Aras River with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The cause of the crash has yet to be established; it was likely related to poor weather conditions and reduced visibility in the area.

Analyst Comment: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as the interim president of Iran to replace Raisi. The country’s constitution stipulates that the vice president, speaker of the parliament, and head of the judiciary must organize elections and select a new leader within 50 days of the vice president assuming the role of acting president. Nonetheless, while the simultaneous deaths of two senior Iranian officials were unprecedented, this event is unlikely to substantially change Iran’s domestic or foreign policy overseen by Khamenei.