Iran wrapped in mourning due to President Raisi tragedy

Dam on Aras (Araks/Arax) River border between Iran and Azerbaijan

Over the past week, the country of Iran is embroiled in statewide mourning and ceremonial expressions of grief.

The sadness is due to the loss of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, East Azerbaijan Governor (Iran) Malek Rahmati, Representative of the Iranian supreme leader in East Azerbaijan Mohammed Ali Ale-Hashem, Head of presidential guard Mehdi Mousavi, along with other officials.

They last boarded a helicopter on May 19th around noon after a visit to the country of Azerbaijan, just across the northwest border, for a meeting with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, for the grand opening of the hydroelectric Giz Galasi Dam (Qiz Qalasi).

This great public welfare project was an exemplar of the type of partnership and polity that President Raisi advanced during his presidency: economic and strategic cooperation takes precedence over foreign policy issues. The Islamic Republic of Iran had issued the following presidential press release:

“While attending the zero point of the border and the construction site of the joint dam Qiz Qalasi before noon on Sunday, Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi and Mr. Ilham Aliyev, presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, officially opened this dam, which has been built upstream of the Aras border river. With the construction and completion of the Qiz Qalasi dam, the possibility of maximum utilisation of the volume of water stored in the Khoda Afrin Dam has been provided by transferring it to agricultural lands in the East Azerbaijan and Ardabil provinces and the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan through the Qiz Qalasi dam, as well as increasing the electricity production capacity. With the completion of the Qiz Qalasi dam and the finalisation of the comprehensive plan of Khoda Afarin, many economic and social needs will be provided at the border zero point in the northwest of the country.”

During his political career, and particularly as president, Imam Raisi faced an uphill battle in terms of the ongoing relentless oppressive Western sanctions placed on Iran almost continuously since the fall of the Shah of Iran (the Khomeini Islamic Revolution) in 1979. It had not helped matters that there were conflicts with the West including the hostage crisis under the Carter administration in 1979, nor that the Zionist-supporting West has viewed its culture, support for Palestine, and pursuit of a nuclear program with open hostility.

Following the helicopter tragedy on May 19th when the second of three helicopters, the one transporting President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, Friday Prayer leader Ale-Hashem, and other officials, mysteriously went down, there has been a massive outpouring in prayers and demonstrations.

There are many theories on whether it was due to the poor weather, mechanical failure, electrical outage, DEW attack, tampering and sabotage of the helicopter, a drugged pilot, etc. These are being investigated, because certainly the timing is suspicious. It has been only weeks since the April 13, 2024 retaliatory attack with missiles raining down on Israel for the Israeli strike against the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, which killed several high-ranking generals.

Perhaps this strike was from Mossad, the secret Israeli intelligence unit famous for its assassination of world leaders, including possibly Yasser Arafat (PLO leader); or planting of bomb devices in buildings such as the World Trade Center; or destruction of nuclear facilities in Iran.

But all that awaits a full investigation, and maybe, as lawyer-geopolitical analyst Dimitri Lascaris claims in his Undiplomatic show “Did Israel assassinate Iran’s president?” there is too much in the desire to save face for Iran to admit that such a successful strike did occur. It would also create such public anger and unrest and an urgent need to avenge such a dastardly crime. Hence, a long investigative probe may be in order, and perhaps more of a focus on the immediate need to replace the power vaccuum, and ensure national security.

In the West, the scorn and dismissiveness of the event by certain high-ranking politicians captured by the AIPAC lobby has been telling. One website by Twitchy even titles “Iowahawk Declares Five Days of Helicopter Jokes” as a collection from posts on X about the downing of the helicopter. The attitude that these officials will not be missed is indicative of the divisions that are paramount to support the ongoing battles against terrorism created by militarily funding boths sides from the West, whether Hamas or Al Nusra Front or Al Mujadeen or Boko Haram.

However within Iran and among the Gulf States, Raisi created new unity through his support for the liberation of Palestine, and particularly his concern over the genocide in Gaza. This is part of his foreign policy legacy, along with that of his foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, is his tireless advocacy as a defender of justice. Whichever part of the Islamic Ummah is suffering under the yoke of hatred, marginalization, sanctions, embargos, Raisi gave those people a voice as a caring, humble, faithful, humanitarian leader.

More than words, he will be remembered by the fruit of his efforts and actions. For decades, he had advocated on behalf of the defenseless Palestinian civilians against the barbaric persecutions of the Zionist entity. At the Special Arab League–Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit on November 11, 2023, at least 57 national leaders rallied around the Gaza humanitarian crisis as the most pressing issue, and emphasized the solidarity of member states needed to achieve peace, save lives, and resources. On May 4-5, 2024, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OCI) held a summit and published the Banjul Declaration with many key elements adopted for halting the ongoing persecution.

Whether in public or in private, President Raisi and his spokespersons sincerely believed and stated words to the effect:

“The U.S. government is the main perpetrator; Israel is the child. The United States encourages Israel to carry out their Zionist regime of genocide.”

Those words and his beliefs took on life at the Emergency Summit on November 11, 2023 where he delivered a memorable speech:

“Today, Palestine is the benchmark of Islamic and human honor…

“Mr. President, at the outset, I would like to thank the Saudi government for hosting and holding this important and joint summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League in this sensitive period of regional developments and current circumstances…

“Today, in this emergency summit, we gathered here to address the most important issues of the Islamic world, meaning the Palestinian issue, one of the disasters of human history, and the heroic Gaza, to take a historic and fateful decision.

“All the problems of the Islamic world are solvable in the light of unity and cohesion. Relying on God Almighty and His absolute power and trusting in the abilities and capabilities of the Islamic world is the way to save the Islamic Ummah, and not trusting the controlling and hegemonic powers. The Islamic Republic of Iran has pursued a policy of good neighborliness and harmony and opened its arms of brotherhood and friendship to all Islamic countries…

“Today we have gathered here in order to respond to the cry made by oppressed Muslims to other Muslims, and today the Messenger of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) is the one who brings solace to the land of Palestine. Today, what does the Prophet of Islam expect from his Ummah? Today, what does the Islamic nation want from its leaders and governments?

“O my brothers in religion, today is the day of conflict between the right and the wrong, and the fabricated entity of Israel is a pharoah of our time and a symbol of corruption on earth and the killing of innocents. The million-strong demonstrations across the globe indicate that the Palestinian issue is in the hearts of the peoples, and for this day is the day of the victory of blood over sword…

“What happened in the past five weeks in Gaza and parts of the West Bank is a historic source of shame for ethics, law, and humanity. Gaza is oppressed but heroic; wounded but proud. For the past two decades, due to a complete naval, land, and aerial blockade, it has been known as the largest open-air prison…

“The Occupying Regime, in violation of all international rules, launched a fierce attack on the Gaza Strip using indiscriminate bombing and the use of phosphorus bombs and other prohibited weapons with the aim of genocide, and turned half of the Gaza Strip into a hill of dirt. To date, more than 11,000 innocent people have been killed, in addition to more than 3,000 people remaining under the rubble, and most of the victims are innocent women and children. The killing of medical staff and reporters and the bombing of hospitals are part of these horrific crimes.

“The even greater tragedy is that the number of people losing their lives due to a lack of access to medicine and the spread of diseases in the face of the Zionist regime’s brutal siege is increasing…

“The events in the Gaza Strip are a confrontation between the Axis of Honor and the Axis of Evil, and everyone must clarify which path they have fallen into…

“Undoubtedly the U.S. government is the main perpetrator and accomplice to this crime. Israel is the child. It is America that has preferred to support this over the sacred lives of thousands of oppressed Palestinian children. By immediately forming its security cabinet in the occupied territories, America encouraged the Zionist regime to carry out criminal operations against the defenseless people of Gaza and called it a legitimate defense. The claim of legitimate defense by the occupying forces who are always invading the rights of Palestinians is one of the bitter ironies of history which is incompatible with any of the established legal rules and international standards…

“At the same time, U.S. warships are sent to the region, thus effectively entering the war on behalf of Israel. The all-out support of the Zionist regime in the U.N. Security Council and preventing the adoption of a resolution to stop the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza is another service by America for the aggressors, allowing them to conduct more war crimes than ever.

“Another action of the U.S. is arming and supporting the Zionist regime with all kinds of deadly weapons and filling up the arms reserves of the usurping Israel, in addition to providing billions of dollars in aid to the military budget of this regime. Both the Zionist regime’s war machine and its fuel belong to the Americans. Heavy shipments of weapons are being sent on a daily basis and the Zionist enemy has so far dropped bombs equivalent to seven atomic bombs on the scale of the Hiroshima crime on the people of Gaza. This crime is considered as participation in the crime and should be strictly pursued by international authorities…

“The most destructive role is that of America. All evils are under the Americans’ control. The slaughter of millions of people around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other Islamic countries is under America’s control. America has been igniting this conflict by disabling all international organizations in the world…

“Respected Islamic governments, now that the international assemblies under the influence of America are suffering from indecisiveness, characterlessness, and the lack of identity, we must take the field…

“I would like to declare that the Islamic Republic of Iran views the Palestinian Resistance as a liberation movement, and that the policy of forced displacement of the people of the Gaza Strip is a continuation of violations and a war crime, and that preserving the al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy places is a major necessity…”

“What we repeatedly emphasized over the past years is being heard from the European and American peoples, and I hereby thank all the peoples who have shown solidarity with the people of Gaza. Today, Israel’s crimes in Gaza are a reason for the awakening of people in the world. Today, attention must be directed to another topic, which is nuclear Israel. The only racist regime in the world that legitimizes the killing of children. This regime is not under the supervision of any international organization and threatens innocent people with atomic bombs.”

“The Islamic resistance, which has achieved great successes in defense of Palestine and the region, is the result of the awakening of the Islamic Ummah and the experiences of more than 70 years of confronting the aggression, hegemony, and arrogance of the Zionist enemy and the arrogant countries that support it.”

“Allow me to conclude with a few greetings…

“Peace be upon the oppressed children and martyrs in Gaza.

“Peace be upon the children who seek refuge in the Holy Quran near the Gaza collapses and recite its verses.

“Peace be upon the children who shiver from the severity of injustice, fear, and intimidation.

“Peace be upon my dear children in the Gaza Strip.

“Peace be upon you, you who gave meaning to resistance through steadfastness in the face of the most advanced global armies and the most malicious people on the face of the earth.

“Peace be upon you whose small hands and thin bodies have shown the extent of the barbarism and brutality of the usurping Zionists.

“Your blood-stained faces, your dismembered bodies, and your broken bones under the rubble of the American bombs, shout your steadfastness.

“There is no doubt that the future belongs to the resistance, and that the true hero is you, steadfast people, and we will not abandon you.

“Palestine is definitely victorious. Al Quds is ours and victory is ours.

“May God’s peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.”

The late-President compared the destruction of Gaza to that of Hiroshima insofar as the carpet bombing and night-time air raids. For sure the President Raisi, under the guidance and with the spiritual support of the Islamic Republic of Iran Supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyad Ali Housseini Khamenei, believes that there must be peace for the oppressed children and martyrs of Gaza.

On, experts, geopolitical analysts, and commentators shared their thoughts on the legacy of the late-President and his team. The five-days of televised national mourning provided opportunity for the Iranian people to overcome their shock, learn his biography, and develop insight and reflections about Ebrahim Raisi’s accomplishments over the past decades. Ebrahim was a scholar who attended seminary in Qom, Iran, and he wore a black turban signifying his descent from the Great Prophet Muhammad.

Nevertheless under the guidance of the religious political elite in the Islamic Republic, Dr. Raisi dedicated himself as a “servant of the People.” The theocracy has coined appellations for posterity, such as “The People’s President”; “Martyr in Service of the People.” He was a “Man of Dignity”, “Defender of Justice” and a “Man with High Faith and Morals.” He “Stood up for the Pillars and Principles of the Khomeini Revolution.”

For sure, Raisi was a President unafraid to go against the grain. Canadian-Moslem activist Abdirahman Mohammad Ahmed recalls how during the Covid crisis, Iranian medical scientists developed their own Covid vaccine, possibly in part due to sanctions. The vaccine was so effective that very few people died from the Covid, and the nation’s leaders led the way to share this alternative vaccine with the Global South. These poor nations were eager to have the alternative vaccine which was cheaper and much more effective.

Because Iran has suffered from increasingly broad sanctions applied by the U.S. and European nations almost continuously since 1979, it was forced to become resourceful. They are tired of the continued victimization and pleading with the West in negotiation for their low-level nuclear energy program. Raisi’s legacy will include getting Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and being admitted into BRICS membership.

According to geopolitical analyst Ryan Dawson, President Raisi’s pivot east is his foremost accomplishment. For decades Iran has suffered all kinds of U.S. trade embargos: ban on oil imports, assets frozen, World Bank loan denials, “dual-use” items ban, petroleum partnership bans, investment embargo, institutional sanctions, private sanctions, and on and on, all strictly enforced, meaning that any business found breaking the sanctions was promptly fined. Europe and the United Nations enacted their own sets of sanctions as well. No wonder that Iran relates to the plight of the Palestinians, because clearly Iran is stigmatized.

Zakir Mayet, an attorney and political analyst, believes that after Raisi, Iran became the prototype for nations in the Global South to follow suit in ditching the dollar. Of course the Far East is very interested in Iran’s most valuable trade commodity in terms of energy, which is its large reserves of fossil fuels. China has named Iran as a strategic partner, and in recent condolences referred to late-President Raisi as a “good friend.”

His unfortunate death is a great loss to the Iranian people and the Chinese people have also lost a good friend.“—quote by Chinese President Xi Jinping in condolence statement

Undoubtedly as the world’s global manufacturer, partnering with BRICS will offer access to alternative trade routes, opportunities to join the New Silk Road, and the ability to obtain Western-quality consumer goods. Iran has also established free trade agreements with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU); in December 2023, President Raisi’s team signed a new agreement to replace the temporary agreement.

According to Jamal Wakim, a Professor of International Relations from Lebanese University in Beirut, the comprehensive trade agreement with China is worth $450 billion dollars. In exchange for oil, China will share technology, education, offer development for many sectors, even offer to use barter-trade until a unified regional currency is developed. The goal is for BRICS to become independent of the US financial hegemony. More and more nations are unhappy with the weaponization of the dollar as a tool for manipulation.

Undoubtedly the greatest single accomplishment of the late-President was his normalization of relations with the League of Arab nations (namely Saudi Arabia). Raisi’s persuasion of the need for unity and cooperation centered not only around the Palestinian issue, a stark symbol of Western Zionist colonialism, but also the need for Southwest Asia to take control of their own interests. Why depend upon the U.S./British forces who often act divisively, plot sectarianism, and try to re-impose Western hegemonic control?

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has faced much animosity from the Zio-Western nations in their efforts to overturn the Islamic Revolution, in the hopes of another return back to the Shah. In the United States, the number of anti-Iran thinktanks and organizations listed at is long; many are probably funded by pro-Zionist lobbies.

The recent new war by Israel on Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria threatens to spread, and already the ongoing strife over the past decade has ruined the lives for millions of Arabs in the OPTs, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. No amount of UN aid funds can replace the loss of homes and villages where people once thrived. Do the Arab nations really need to rely on the security forces and weapons provided by the West? If the Muslim world formed a cooperative defensive coalition, Israel will at least have to appear more humane. Today with the type of weapons available on the market from Russia, the Gulf States can easily fulfill its own armament needs, or enact their own trade embargo.

The Islamic world cannot help but view the US-Israel Central Command as colonialist interventionists. They see them as always seeking to drive wedges between Sunni and Shiite Moslem sects, taking advantage when a country becomes weak and unstable. Just read the propaganda articles speculating about when the next leader will die, or who should take his place. Iran will never forget the martyred General Soleimani who advocated for Americans to leave their region. With each month of the genocide in Gaza, America’s, and their de-facto colony of Israel’s, credibility goes down.

The world still judges not by words but by actions; they think that the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is a manchurian candidate who would rather spend time at the bar than go to visit all the new cemetaries where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are buried. In Gaza, those civilians do not even get those kind of honors. They are merely mown down underneath military tractors and left to rot underneath the rubble, as if they were so many rats.

Until peace is brought to the Middle East, more nations are called by Raisi to join with the Axis of Resistance and support the Palestinian Revolution. Never mind that by daring to resist, by daring to break the taboo of not-attacking Israel with missiles, the late-Iranian President and his team may very well have been assassinated.

As Dimitri Lascaris pointed out in “Did Israel assassinate Iran’s president?“, Raisi was a hero for being able to stand up to the West on many fronts, speaking truth to correct the prevaricating yet powerful narratives of the West, not bending to the whims of the World Health Organization, supporting the militants in need whether Hamas or the Houthis, bringing together partners for economic development, such as in the late-completion of the Giz Galasi (Qiz Qalasi) earthen dam, with its clay core and height of 37 meters and crest length of 834 meters and body volume of 1.3 million cubic meters.

According to the presidential press release:

This dam will provide 2 billion cubic meters of water and 270 gigawatts of electricity per year, covering 74,000 hectares of agricultural lands.”

The partnership with Azerbaijan is a masterpiece of neighborly relations, since there had been trenchant issues over the two countries’ foreign policy with regard to Armenia. The joint dams system, irrigation, and power-generation projects will create a nexus of sustainable farming and business development for the region that will be a 21st-century model for peaceful co-existance that will include sharing of the riches with Armenia.

It is no accident that millions upon millions of people turned out on the streets of Tabriz, Qom, Tehran, Birjand, Masshad, and many other cities within Iran, as well as in Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, and other central Asian nations. People realized that the late-President Raisi was truly a “People’s President” and they wanted to convey that he will be cherished and even adored as a martyr of the Resistance. According to Harif Bismi, author and political analyst based in Sydney, Australia, “Martyrs are icons in political and cultural history.” Just as there are event milestones, so must there be iconic heroes for the ongoing revolutionary landscape.

Most of all, people mourn the untimely end of everyone on the President’s team in the ill-fated helicopter journey. It was so unexpected; they were not expecting him to die in such a way. The late-President Raisi and his team loved to travel to meet people from all over Iran. No place had been too remote for them to meet and discuss matters with the provincials. Their pastoral humanitarianism and moral compass as leaders touched many.

According to commentator Abdirahman Mohammed Ahmed, this show of love is truly unusual in today’s increasingly pop-star-based, trend-worshipping, consumerist-craven, collectively-stupefied, drug-addicted, narcissistic-centered cultures. Iran is one of the few nations still, where people can openly demonstrate their adoration for religious saints and martyrs, for fighters of justice, even for excellence as every day caring, humble, hard working, faithful people.

We can see it every day in the dignity of the people of Gaza, Yemen, Beirut, even South Africa and South America, where respect is just an honest outpouring of love for heroes that depart us too soon.

Indeed the people of Iran deserve our understanding, prayers, and empathy in this time of need. We need to stop stoking endless hate-mongering and normalizing of indifference. We need more world peace. We need better competent leaders who can live up to their qualifications and produce good fruit. We can learn to admire the good things about Iran’s late-leaders.


Photo from Islamic Republic News Agency