May 20, 2024 | The New York Times

The Death of Iran’s President Does Not Bode Well

May 20, 2024 | The New York Times

The Death of Iran’s President Does Not Bode Well

Excerpt

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has not always seen eye to eye with his country’s presidents. Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani nudged the Islamic Republic too close to the West for the supreme leader’s liking. Mohammad Khatami rattled the conservative elite with subversive talk of how faith and freedom could coexist. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was too insubordinate and too populist, while Hassan Rouhani’s flirtation with the Americans and his disappointing arms-control agreement drove him out of the inner circle.

President Ebrahim Raisi, on the other hand, was Mr. Khamenei’s ideal partner. A lackluster manager with dispiriting rhetoric and a vicious streak, he was steadfastly loyal to Mr. Khamenei, who is 85 years old, and an integral part of his plan to ensure a smooth succession. Mr. Raisi’s sudden death in a helicopter crash on Sunday has thrown that plan into disarray, scrambled Iran’s backroom politics and could further empower a younger, more radical generation of politicians that would bring further repression at home and aggression overseas.

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Issues:

Iran Iran Politics and Economy