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Great Game – What will Raisi’s death mean for Iran’s future and the Middle East?

We cover the four most important geopolitical topics of the past week - Iran, Ukraine, Israel... and Congo!

Welcome to this week’s Great Game after an eventful week in Geopolitics. This week we cover four topics:

  • Iranian President Raisi dies in helicopter crash
  • Russia begins to make gains in Ukraine
  • Foiled coup in DR Congo
  • Israeli government coalition begins to crack


Iranian President Raisi dies in helicopter crash


  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash in Northern Iran on Sunday
  • Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was another casualty in the tragic helicopter crash
  • Vice President Mohammad Mokhber steps up as interim President until new elections can be held


  • There is still nothing to suggest that this was an assasination or deliberated in any way. It appears that the helicopter flew in tough weather conditions and crashed.
  • The death of Raisi is being celebrated by progressives and exile Iranians, who viewed Raisi as a hard-line protege of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Furthermore, Raisi was speculated to be first in line to succeed Supreme Leader Khamenei.
  • Raisis presidency has been marked by violent internal unrest in Iran, who at one point was moving close to revolutionary circumstances in major cities. Furthermore, regional and ethnic secessionist groups have increased their activities all across Iran, both in South Azerbaijan, Balochistan, Khuzestan etc.
  • What’s interesting now is whether the Supreme Leader and his Guardian Council will promote a new hard-line President or attempt to find a candidate who can “heal the country”.
  • Iran remains a staunchly authoritarian system, although the Presidential election gives the voters some level of choice between regime-approved candidates.


What comes next:

  • I expect the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council to prioritize stability over all else. This will of course mean selecting a set of loyal candidates, but perhaps lean towards a candidate who can mend some wounds and lower ethnic and political tensions.
  • It’s equally interesting whether the Supreme Leader will elect a new hard-line Foreign Minister. The President wields quite limited power over the foreign policy of Iran, so the Foreign Minister is a critical appointment.
  • Eventually, the demise of Raisi will most likely lead to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s son Moktaba being bumped up to heir apparent. This transition of power from father to son will be extremely controversial since the Islamic Republic was born as a rebellion against the old Shah Monarchy, who also passed on power from father to son.
  • For the current unrest in the Middle East, I expect no deviation from the Iranian policies and the course. However, it certainly puts Iran in a vulnerable situation for the coming weeks and months, where we should expect less adventurism on their part.



Russia begins to make gains in Ukraine

We cover the four most important geopolitical topics of the past week – Iran, Ukraine, Israel… and Congo!

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