World Leaders Mourn Death Of Iranian President, Others In Helicopter Crash

World Leaders Mourn Death Of Iranian President, Others In Helicopter Crash

20th May 2024

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has joined other world leaders to pay tributes following the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others.

A report in AFP says total of nine people were on board the aircraft that crashed in a mountainous region of the country on Sunday.

Today, a report in The Sun said the Iranian “president’s body was located after an hourslong search through the fog in the mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media and officials reported on Monday.

“Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also found dead in the charred wreckage of the helicopter, said by state news agency IRNA to have been a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.”

So, following today’s confirmation of their deaths, leaders across the globe have been sending condolence messages to the Iranian government and the people.

Tinubu Mourns

In a statement on Monday, Presidential Spokesman Ajuri Ngelale conveys his principal’s condolence to the people of Iran over the accident.

The statement reads: “President Bola Tinubu extends his condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi; Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials in a helicopter crash.”

“President Tinubu expresses profound grief over this disturbing tragedy, and describes President Raisi as a leader who was passionately committed to the development of Iran.”

Deeply Saddened, Says Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also “deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise” of Iranian President Raisi in the crash.

“My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran,” Modi posted on social media platform X. “India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow.”

India and Iran have had historically close relations, with the Islamic Republic for many years a key oil supplier to the South Asian giant, which is now the world’s fifth-biggest economy, until US sanctions curtailed the trade.

New Delhi has had to balance its ties with Tehran with its links to Washington — the United States and India are both members of the Quad security grouping — and its warming relationship with Israel.

Iran and India signed a contract last week to develop and equip the long-stalled Chabahar port in an agreement that would give New Delhi 10 years’ access to the facility, prompting Washington to warn that companies involved in the deal risked being sanctioned.

A ‘Great Loss to Iranian People’: China’s Xi

For China’s President Xi Jinping, Raisi’s “tragic death” was “a great loss to the Iranian people”, according to Beijing’s foreign ministry.

“President Xi Jinping pointed out… His tragic death is a great loss to the Iranian people, and the Chinese people have lost a good friend,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference.

UAE, Qatar mourn Raisi, FM

Equally, Iran’s Gulf neighbours the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have mourned the deaths of President Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian.

The oil-rich UAE, which has mended ties with Tehran after years of rift, “stands in solidarity with Iran at this difficult time”, said Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the Iranian government and people over the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and those accompanying them following a tragic accident,” Sheikh Mohammed posted on social media platform X.

In another statement on X, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called the news “painful”, expressing his “sincere condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have long had strained ties with Iran because of its nuclear program and support for militant groups across the region, but they have mended relations in recent times.

In a dramatic shift, China brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March 2023 to restore diplomatic ties after a seven-year rupture.

In June, Amir-Abdollahian visited the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman as part of a regional tour aimed at consolidating Tehran’s Gulf ties.

‘Deeply Saddened’ Ramaphosa

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently invited Iran to join the BRICS group, expressed deep regret Monday over the death of President Raisi.

“This is an extraordinary, unthinkable tragedy that has claimed a remarkable leader of a nation with whom South Africa enjoys strong bilateral relations,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa visited Iran as deputy president in 2015 and in 2023 welcomed Raisi to a summit of the BRICS group in Johannesburg, where the Islamic republic was formally invited to join.

Iran became a full member of the intergovernmental forum in January, along with Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.

EU Expresses ‘Sincere Condolences’

The European Union on its part expressed “sincere condolences” over the death of Iran’s Raisi and other officials in the helicopter crash.

“Our thoughts go to the families,” EU Council President Charles Michel said in a statement.

Hamas Mourns Raisi

Hamas on Monday expressed its condolences for Iranian president Raisi’s death, mourning in a statement an “honourable supporter” of the Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group.

Hamas said it appreciated Raisi’s “support for the Palestinian resistance, and tireless efforts in solidarity” with Palestinians since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza following the group’s October 7 attack.

The militant group said it appreciated Raisi and Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was also killed in the Sunday crash, for their “intense political and diplomatic efforts to stop the Zionist (Israeli) aggression against our Palestinian people”.

Iran, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, has hailed the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel as a “success” but denied any involvement.

On April 13, Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones in Tehran’s first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory.

That attack was itself in retaliation for an air strike — widely blamed on Israel — that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards on April 1.

Since the start of the Gaza war, violence has surged across the region often involving Iran-backed Hamas allies. Israel has been engaged in near-daily clashes along its northern border with the powerful Tehran-backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah.Malaysia PM Anwar says ‘deeply saddened’ by Raisi death.

Malaysia PM Anwar ‘Deeply Saddened’

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Raisi and other officials, noting their shared commitment to strengthening ties.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several other officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said in a statement on social media.

“We committed ourselves to bolstering Malaysia-Iran relations, working together for the betterment of our peoples and the Muslim world. Our pledge will be fulfilled.”

Egypt’s Sisi In ‘Great Sadness and Grief’

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was also among those who extended their condolences for the deaths of Iranian President Raisi and foreign minister Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash.

“Egypt mourns, with great sadness and grief” the Iranian president and Tehran’s top diplomat, “who passed away on Sunday following a painful accident,” the presidency said in a statement.

Sisi, who has drawn closer to normalising relations with regional powerhouse Iran in recent years, extended “his sincere condolences and sympathy” to the Iranian people.

He also expressed Cairo’s “solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran in this terrible loss”.

Fuelled by regional trends for de-escalation — including a surprise rapprochement last year between Iran and Saudi Arabia — Tehran and Cairo have sought to mend decades of strained ties.

Diplomatic exchanges between the two countries have increased in recent months since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Sisi and Raisi met for the first time in November in Riyadh, and Raisi congratulated Sisi on his reelection the following month.

An ‘Outstanding’ Leader – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Iranian Raisi as an “outstanding politician” and said his death was an “irreplaceable loss.”

Iran has become one of Russia’s key political allies since Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive in 2022, with Tehran supplying crucial drone technology.

“Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was dedicated to serving his homeland,” Putin said in a letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published on the Kremlin’s website.

“As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good-neighbourly relations between our countries, and made great efforts to take them to the level of a strategic partnership,” he added.

The Kremlin leader said he was sending condolences to Khamenei and the Iranian people “in the face of such a grave and irreplaceable loss.”

Raisi was declared dead on Monday after rescue teams found his crashed helicopter in a fog-shrouded western mountain region.

Turkey ‘Deeply saddened’

Turkey said it was also “deeply saddened” by the death of Iran’s Raisi.

The country “shares the pain of the friendly and brotherly Iranian people,” Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said.

“I pray for God’s mercy for my dear colleague and brother,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on X, the former Twitter, expressing his “sincere condolences to the friendly and fraternal people and government in particular to the religious head of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei”.

The state Anadolu news agency on Monday said a Turkish-made Akinci drone helped localise the debris of the helicopter in a fog-shrouded mountain region of western Iran.

Photo Caption: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is seen on board a helicopter before the crash.

Source/Photo: AFP
~ NewsOrient