The Late President Raeisi’s Legacy Will Continue

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Waseem Shehzad

Dhu al-Qa'dah 24, 1445 2024-06-01

Main Stories

by Waseem Shehzad (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 54, No. 4, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1445)

Courtesy -Mohammad Ali Marizad - Tasnim News

There is little doubt that the tragic loss of President Ibrahim Raeisi and his energetic Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian will be felt in Iran. The two senior officials were martyred together with a number of others in a helicopter crash on May 19.

The outpouring of grief and people’s participation in funeral ceremonies was huge. On two consecutive days—Tuesday May 21 and Wednesday May 22—millions of people joined funeral ceremonies in three cities: Tabriz and Qom (May 21) and Tehran (May 22). The bodies were buried on May 23.

In their customary hostility, Iran’s enemies and detractors immediately went into speculative overdrive claiming the country will now face political turbulence. Such wishful thinking is not based on objective reality on the ground. The Islamic system in Iran is stable. It has weathered many such storms in its 45-year history since the Islamic revolution.

The fact that the first Vice President Mohammed Mokhber was immediately sworn in as interim president confirms the system’s stability and constitutional order. Deputy Foreign Minister for political affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, took over as foreign minister.

Iran’s constitution stipulates that elections must be held within 50 days to elect a new president. This process will begin in early June with elections scheduled for June 28.

While President Raeisi’s absence will no doubt be felt, the policies he formulated will continue. This has been stressed by many officials since the tragic event of May 19.

In his first comments after getting news of the helicopter’s difficulties, the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei asked people to pray for the safety of President Raeisi and those on board with him. He also assured them that regardless of what happened “… there will be no disruption to the work of the country.”

What is President Raeisi’s legacy and what did he achieve in the three-year period that he was at the helm of affairs? When he assumed the office of president in August 2021, Iran faced numerous challenges.

Donald Trump had unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA in May 2018. The European countries that were part of the nuclear agreement, refused to fulfill their obligations to redress Iran’s losses. Trump compounded his crimes by assassinating General Qassem Solaimani on January 3, 2020 as he arrived in Baghdad on a diplomatic mission. He had also imposed more than 1500 sanctions on various state entities and personalities in Iran. His successor Joe Biden added another 700 sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Relations with Saudi Arabia were tense. Riyadh had cut off diplomatic ties in January 2016 following the execution of Shaikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 3. Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran to condemn execution of the prominent Saudi alim leading to termination in diplomatic ties.

In order to protect Iran’s interests, President Raeisi formulated a policy of “good neighbourliness” in the region and reduction in reliance on the collective west led by the US. He also launched the “Look East policy” while emphasizing building self-reliance in order to minimize the impact of illegal sanctions that have inflicted much suffering on the Iranian people.

Ordinary people have suffered due to restrictions on import of much-needed medicines. Similarly, spare parts for aircraft including helicopters are banned.

President Raeisi vigorously pursued the “Look East Policy” that led to closer ties with regional countries. Friendly relations with countries further afield and Eastern powers resulted in reducing the west’s relentless economic pressure.

In his first press conference after becoming the president, President Raeisi laid said: “Iran’s foreign policy does not begin with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and does not end with it either.” In other words, Iran will pursue a policy independent of the outcome of negotiations regarding JCPOA.

Iran has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause since the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Imam Khomeini’s call to observe the last Friday of Ramadan as Quds Day has now become a global phenomenon. Quds Day rallies are attended not only by Muslims but also by many non-Muslims. The Palestinian cause is recognized globally as witnessed in the student encampments at university campuses worldwide.

Since the intensification of the struggle against zionist occupation last October, Iran’s responsibilities have multiplied. Both President Raeisi and Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian were deeply involved in mobilizing support for the Palestinian cause. Leaders of the Islamic resistance have publicly acknowledged Islamic Iran’s unflinching support.

To their eternal shame, Arab regimes with the exception of a few, have not only not helped the Palestinians but are supporting Israel’s genocidal policy. They fear the success of the Palestinian resistance. Should the Islamic resistance succeed—and insha’Allah it will—it will energize opposition to the despotic regimes in their countries.

The eight-month long Islamic resistance has not only frustrated zionist political and military plans but also exposed the criminal nature of zionism. The overwhelming majority of people in the world have realized how evil zionism is.

Iran’s consistent support for the Palestinian cause has much to do with this, especially the untiring efforts of the two martyred leaders. Given the history of Iran’s support, this will continue regardless of who is at the helm of affairs.

The other major success of the Raeisi administration was the deepening of ties with China and Russia. During his visit to Tehran in 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping had announced a $400 billion deal with Iran over the next 25. This included investments in building railway lines, and oil and industrial development projects.

This was followed in March 2021 by the visit of Iran’s then Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to Beijing. The two countries signed the landmark strategic partnership agreement, which seeks to enhance cooperation between the two countries in economic, political, cultural, security, and defense areas for the next 25 years.

In February 2023, President Raeisi paid a three-day visit to China, the first state visit by an Iranian president in 20 years. The two sides signed 20 cooperation documents worth more than $10 billion in the fields of agriculture, trade, tourism, environmental protection, health, disaster relief, culture and sport.

Following the tragic death of President Raeisi, President Xi Jinping said that China had lost a “true friend of the Chinese people”. Equally effusive tribute was paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his condolence message to the Rahbar. He said President Raeisi had strived hard to cultivate friendship with Russia. He called him a “true friend of Russia” and said President Raeisi always fulfilled whatever he promised. It was an indirect reference to the duplicity of western rulers about whom Putin has said they are incapable of upholding their agreements.

President Raeisi’s high regard among world leaders was reflected in the messages of condolences received and the many countries that flew their flag at half-mast in his honour. Several countries observed days of mourning. Even the UN Security Council observed a minute’s silence at the request of Russia, China and Algeria.

During his less than three years as president, he visited virtually all the countries in Central Asia, West Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. These resulted in deepening ties with the countries he visited.

He has left a rich legacy that will benefit the Islamic Republic of Iran for decades to come.

Related Articles

Islamic Iran

Leyla Hamid
Safar 02, 1441 2019-10-01

Islamic Revolution: The New Power Centre

Zafar Bangash
Jumada' al-Ula' 15, 1439 2018-02-01
Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Copyrights © 1436 AH
Sign In
Forgot Password?
Not a Member? Signup