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Does Raisi's Death Impact Iranian Efforts to Become Middle East's Top Military Power?

© AFP 2023 ADEM ALTANIran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends a joint press conference with Turkish president in Ankara, on January 24, 2024.
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends a joint press conference with Turkish president in Ankara, on January 24, 2024.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 22.05.2024
Iran suffered a massive blow on Sunday after its President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian lost their lives in a helicopter crash in neighboring Azerbaijan. Sputnik India examines the implications of the deaths on the Islamic Republic's military.
The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his cabinet colleague Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during the weekend sent shockwaves across the world, with suspicions being raised about an Israel trail in the helicopter crash that killed the Iranian leader and the state's Foreign Minister.
Under late Raisi, Iran was seen as taking a more assertive approach to its military affairs — both in expanding its area of influence in the Middle East and taking on the country's arch-rivals (read Israel, US) head-on.

Raisi and IRGC: A Close-Knit Affair

Raisi was considered to be extremely close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which often influenced its foreign policy decision-making, according to Dr. Nazir Ahmad Mir, a research analyst specializing in Iranian affairs with India's top think tank, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
The IRGC is regarded as the most powerful division of the Iranian Defense Forces, which functions independently and doesn't come under the purview of the Middle East nation's regular Army.
Moreover, IRGC is said to be the custodian of Iran's theocracy and hence, its personnel are drawn from the various services of the Iranian Armed Forces.
Additionally, the IRGC is the main supervisor of Iran's clandestine missions abroad. That is also because he was close to Ali Khamenei, the religious head of Iran who the IRGC reports to as it was formed to protect the values and principles of the revolution, Mir emphasized.

Policies Followed by IRGC and Other Branches of Iranian Military to Remain Unaltered

In either case, the policies pursued by the Iranian armed forces, including the IRGC are unlikely to see any major change, as they were pursued by the state to secure its national interests in the region, Mir told Sputnik India on Wednesday. Besides, the President was carrying forward the policies that were started before he was elected in 2021, he added.
According to the analyst, the death of Raisi is more of a political problem inside Iran and the country will be able to deal with the issues created by the incident, without any change in its foreign policy in the region and beyond.
Like Mir, Indian Army veteran Lieutenant-Colonel (Retd) J.S. Sodhi echoed similar sentiments during a conversation with Sputnik India.
"President Raisi's death will not majorly impact the IRGC or the other wings of Iran's military as the Supreme Leader of Iran as per Iran's constitution, has full control of Iran's military, foreign affairs, and economic policies. Iran is following a clear and crisp policy in every sphere so the next Iranian President will carry on the work when he is elected next month," the defense analyst reckoned.

How Raisi's Death Could Impact West Asia, India and Pakistan?

Before the Iranian leader's death, the stand-off between the Iranian-supported Houthis and Israel backed by Western powers, posed immense problems for India and Pakistan due to the disruption of trade in the Red and the Arabian Seas.
However, as per Mir's assessment, there will not be any major change in the foreign policy of Iran either in Western Asia or in South Asia.
The Houthis, one needs to understand, are a group in Yemen and not a typical proxy that can be said to be entirely controlled by Tehran. Its formation and its goals are local and it operates according to its own interests and beliefs, the panellist observed.
At the same time, Sodhi opined that Iran will continue to support the Houthis, Hezbollah, and Hamas as over seven months of the Israeli operation in Gaza and Tehran's attack on the Jewish state last month has put Iran in a commanding position in the Middle East.
"Besides, Iran will continue its good friendship with India while at the same time having balanced relations with Pakistan," the retired Indian Army officer concluded.
India Seeks to Expand Raisi's Legacy in Ties with Iran - Sputnik India, 1920, 20.05.2024
Sputnik Opinion
India Seeks to Expand Raisi's Legacy in Ties with Iran
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