Raisi and Fico: Victims and Symbols of a new world order?

The mysterious death of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and other high officials on May 19, 2024, occurs at a defining moment in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.
Keywords: Iran, Crash, Ibrahim Raisi, Helicopter, Mysterious, Middle East, Israel
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The mysterious death (and suspected assassination) of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and other high officials on May 19, 2024, occurs at a defining moment in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. The response of the non-Western world shows that this incident cements Tehran’s place in the emerging multipolar world, and may even expedite justice for the long-suffering Palestinian people. Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, has taken over as Acting President and fresh elections are slated for June 28, 2024. 

Others who perished in the crash include Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Rais al-Sadati; Ayatollah Seyyed Muhammad Ali Ale-Hashem (Tabriz’s Friday Imam); East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati; Sardar Seyed Mehdi Mousavi; an Ansar al-Mahdi Corps; pilots Colonel Seyed Taher Mostafavi and Colonel Mohsen Daryanosh.

Raisi had gone to inaugurate a dam across a river marking the border between Iran and Azerbaijan. The delegation traveled on three helicopters  flying in a row when one suddenly disappeared while climbing above into a cloud patch. The weather was not foggy, and two helicopters got through without incident but the third went down without any distress signal. Israel was quick to deny any involvement. 

It is premature to draw conclusions. However, we should recall that on January 3, 2020, the CIA assassinated Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as he was leaving Baghdad’s International Airport to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. That strike revealed that the United States, and very probably Israel, track the movement of Iranian leaders. 

Many believe that the helicopter may have been tracked and targeted from inside Azerbaijan, as it crashed very close to the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Israel drew close to Baku in 2020 when Azerbaijan occupied Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) which has a 138-km border with Iran. Tel Aviv supported Baku militarily and diplomatically, established an intelligence base and airfield there, and signed an agreement to operate two new surveillance satellites from Azerbaijan. Baku now imports around 70 percent of its weapons from Israel, while Israel imports around 40 percent of its oil from Azerbaijan via a pipeline that crosses Türkiye. 

Strategic analyst Alison Tahmizian Meuse notes that Armenia and Russia withdrew their forces from the region after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recognised Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan. Thereafter, Iran tried to maintain some diplomatic engagement with Baku, hence President Raisi agreed to inaugurate the dam with President Ilham Aliyev. 

Türkiye promptly joined the search for the missing helicopter as it is also responsible for emergency research coordination for aviation accidents in the region. Turkish transport minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu told the BBC that the helicopter either “did not have its signal system turned on or did not possess such a system”. Russian President Putin offered to help in the search, but the helicopter was finally found by rescue workers of the Red Crescent Society; the bodies were reportedly in bad shape. Iranian State Media reported that the crash site was discovered by a Turkish Bayraktar “Akıncı” Long-Range Surveillance Drone (AKINCI07) with a Thermal-Imaging Camera.

The closest eyewitness account came from President Raisi’s Chief of Staff, Gholam Hossein Esmaili. He said the weather was clear, but that after about 30 minutes in the air, near the Sungun copper mine, they saw a small patch of clouds. the pilot of Raisi’s chopper, who was also the commander of the fleet, told the other pilots to ascend above the clouds. 

Esmaili clarified that there was no fog at that height, though there was some on the ground: “In one small compacted area, there was a small patch of clouds above a cliff… This cloud was on the same height as our flight…” It was then that the fleet commander told the other pilots to ascend above the clouds. “We were the third pilot (sic), behind the president’s helicopter. We came above the clouds, we advanced for approximately 30 seconds. Our pilot suddenly realised that the main helicopter carrying the President was missing.”

The last radio contact with the chopper had been 180 seconds earlier, and though they circled the area a couple of times, it was too risky to descend.  30 seconds later, they landed at the Sungun copper mine to investigate. 

Emali said that while flying, there was regular cell phone communication with the passengers, Mr. Abdollahian, the governor of East Azerbaijan and the Friday imam of Tabriz. Later, Ayatollah Hashem answered the captain’s cell phone call and said, “I’m not feeling well.” He added that he didn’t know what had happened, or his whereabouts, but he could see that he was surrounded by trees. Asked about the condition of the others, the Ayatollah said he was alone and couldn’t see anyone else.

The head of Iran’s Crisis Management Team confirmed to the media that Ayatollah Hashem was alive for an hour after the crash and spoke to Esmaili. Michael Maloof, a veteran security analyst, observed that Israel has a long history of alleged and often tacitly acknowledged ‘wet’ clandestine operations inside Iran, including the bombing of pipelines, murders of nuclear scientists, and the recent military response to Iran’s retaliation after the bombing of its embassy in Damascus, Syria, on April 1, 2024. Speaking at Sputnik’s The Critical Hour, Maloof warned that if investigations show that Israel was involved, “I think you’re going to see a very major response.” 

The current theory is that the helicopter’s communication system and radar were jammed, which would explain why it went down without any warning. It is no secret that the beleaguered Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is desperate to draw the United States into his war in Palestine, something President Joe Biden is resisting in an election year.

Others counter that Israel has never killed a Head of State so far, as that is an act of war and would invite a fitting response from Tehran. Yet, even before the President’s funeral (May 22), the US Civil Defense News announced that “The head of the Intelligence Organization of Lorestan province in Iran was killed by Mossad agents” (May 21). The Mossad agents who carried out the assassination made a safe exit. 

Iran’s role is critical in the Middle East and stands against Israeli and US domination of the region, hence its natural alliance with Russia and China. President Raisi helped Iran to grow economically despite sanctions, joined the BRICS grouping of rising powers, restored relations with Saudi Arabia, signed a 25-year deal with China, and defended Palestine as the leader of the Axis of Resistance. He made Iran a pillar of the emerging multipolar world. A key figure of the Global South, Raisi prioritised South-South integration against Western imperialism and deepened ties with Latin America. He and his foreign minister concluded the long-term agreement for India to manage the Chabahar port. 

Hossein Abdollahian, widely seen as an Iranian ‘Lavrov’ on account of his skillful diplomacy, crafted Iran’s current foreign policy. Abdollahian had good relations with Arab countries, as a result of which Iran was able to normalise ties with Saudi Arabia in 2023 and establish bilateral trade and economic cooperation, besides coming to some mutual understanding with Riyadh in matters of regional security.

The highlights of his tenure include Iran becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2023 and BRICS in 2024. He endorsed Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in 2022. In discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2023, Abdollahian expressed satisfaction with the “record figures, with 20% growth” of trade turnover.

Abdollahian was critical of the UN Security Council for its failure to put pressure on Israel and help the population of Gaza during the current war. A sharp critic of the collective West, especially of the US and Israel, he accused Washington of “publicly supporting” Israel’s “killing of thousands of children and women in the Gaza Strip.” After Israel bombed the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Abdollahian promised “a proportionate response”, and personally flew to Damascus a week later to open a new consulate in Syria.

Independent analyst Maria Dubovikova said the recent deadly crash has to be seen as part of a series of recent events, from the May 7 report of an assassination attempt on the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to the May 14 report of a thwarted coup in Türkiye followed by the May 15 assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and the arrest on May 16 of a man who threatened Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to the May 19 helicopter crash that killed President Raisi. The common thread in these events was that all these countries are friendly with Russia and China. Interestingly, in the same period there was an attempted coup in Congo, led by the West-backed Christian Malaga and at least one Israeli-American mercenary was arrested among the putschist assailants. 

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico

On May 15, 2024, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and critically injured in the town of Handlová after a government meeting. He survived after emergency surgery. Police caught the suspect, Juraj Cintula, an activist of the Progressive Party and one of the organisers of the Committee Against Violence that is linked to the Soros Foundation.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, said on Telegram, “Is it surprising that for the first time in decades, an assassination attempt was made in Europe on a politician who took a reasonable position towards Russia? By the way, by no means pro-Russian. Just a pragmatist and a non-Russophobe.” Medvedev said that Fico “personifies the part of the European establishment that has not lost touch with reality and does not want its citizens to turn into grey radioactive ashes…” 

Slovakia is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Slovak Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok said the attack was “politically motivated” and came soon after the national election. Fico won the elections in October 2023 after promising to halt military aid to Ukraine, condemning sanctions against Russia for its invasion, and criticism of LGBTQ+ rights.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the attack on Premier Fico, who advocates peace in Ukraine, came amid preparations by Western countries to directly enter the Ukraine conflict. Speaking to a morning show on Kossuth Radio, he mentioned the recent visit to Kiev by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken; the US plans to collect $100 billion in aid to Ukraine in the next five years and debates about sending Western troops to the former Soviet republic.

Slovakia supported Hungary which favours talks to end the conflict. Orban said that, in Western Europe, only the Vatican promotes peace but “does not vote for solving political issues” at EU meetings. Reports say Viktor Orban is also being threatened.


On May 15, 2024, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğğan informed parliament that there was another attempted coup in Türkiye by supporters of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkish media reported that on May 14, law enforcement conducted searches at the Ankara Security Directorate and the homes of high-ranking officials and detained a group of police officers on suspicion of “conspiracy to commit a crime.” The Ankara prosecutor’s office began an investigation into three officers from the capital’s police department with alleged links to the leader of an organised crime group, Ayhan Bora Kaplan. 

Tehran Funeral

Nearly 50 high-ranking foreign delegations attended the funerals in Tehran. Leaders such as Tunisian President Kais Saied and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Iran for the first time to pay tribute to the late President Raisi.

Other dignitaries included Russian Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin; Chinese Vice Prime Minister Zhang Guoqing; Indian Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar; Türkiye’s Vice President Cevdat Yilmaz and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan; Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif; Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri; Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan; Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi; Azerbaijan’s Prime Minister Ali Asadov and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov; Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon; Kuwait Foreign Minister Abdullah Al Yahya; UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Oman’s Foreign Minister Badr-al-Busaidi; Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani; Uzbekistan’s Parliament Speaker Oliy Majlis;  Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and senior official Usama al-Hamdan. 

Iran extended the same protocols to the leaders of Ansarullah-Yemen, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Hamas-Palestine, and Hashad Shabi-Iraq as to other world leaders, a significant show of Iran’s steadfast support to the Islamic resistance.

The presence of the Emir of Qatar and foreign ministers of Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia was widely regarded as a testimony to the success of President Raisi’s Middle East policy. Some Iranian Jewish rabbis also attended the funeral ceremony of foreign minister Amirabdollahian.


Maher Arar 

Conspiracy Theory Of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Helicopter Accident: Israel’s Involvement To The Impact Of The United States Embargo, May 22, 2024. https://voi.id/en/bernas/383344

US civil defense: Iranian intelligence chief in Lorestan was killed, Ava Today, May 21, 2024. https://avatoday.net/node/21298

Chopper Carrying Iran President Ebrahim Raisi Did Not Turn On Signal System, Or Lacked It Altogether: Türkeyi, News18.com, May 21, 2024.


Iran President Dead | Raisi’s Chief Of Staff Describes Final Moments Before Helicopter Crash, G18V. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgaZ200zY20

Maria Dubovikova https://twitter.com/politblogme/status/1792285086110384205

If Raisi Is Dead: Implications for the Islamic Republic of Iran, Middle East Forum Observer, May 19, 2024. https://www.meforum.org/65899/if-raisi-is-dead-implications-for-the-islamic?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&utm_campaign=5b22fb7383-MEF_Khatiri_05192024&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_086cfd423c-5b22fb7383-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D&goal=0_086cfd423c-5b22fb7383-33629721&mc_cid=5b22fb7383&mc_eid=c4c51f2c38

Alison Tahmizian Meuse 

Putin Ally’s Warning After Assassination Attempt in NATO Country, Newsweek, May 16, 2024. https://www.newsweek.com/putin-ally-dmitry-medvedev-warning-assassination-attempt-shooting-robert-fico-1901492

Orban sees link between attack on pro-peace Fico, war preparations in West, TASS, May 17, 2024. https://tass.com/world/1789583

Attack on Fico unexpected: Orban, ANSA, May 17, 2024.


A new coup attempt in Türkiye: Who wants Erdogan gone?, RT, May 20, 2014.


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Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain is a political analyst, independent researcher, and author of multiple books. She is also editor of the platform Vijayvaani

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