Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi’s death and the impact on the international world order

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In April, in one of the discussions at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, I asked the question from the invited speaker, whether the Gaza war will be the key milestone for transformation of the world order? The speaker responded:  “not”.

The speaker was correct, as for the transformation of the world order a long time requires or a seismic event. It appears that the helicopter crash of the former President Ebrahim Raisi and his minister this Sunday, might have happened as such an event. The hardline Iranian President Raisi has died in a a helicopter crash after an hours-long search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest. The helicopter was also carrying Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew, all of whom died. The timing of events is clearly very critical, as the country is facing a deepening conflict with Israel. And at the regional level, this might have further escalated the situation in the Middle East. 

Internationally, the event might also be seismic, as the Iranian leader always followed anti-Western sentiment. In January 2022, in the shadow of the build-up of the Ukraine crisis, President Ebrahim Raisi visited Moscow, and met with President Putin, calling for closer collaboration to counter pressure from the US, stating that ‘Just like you, we have also stood up against US sanctions from 40 years ago’. He continued: ‘Today’s exceptional circumstances require significant synergy between our two countries against US unilateralism’.

During Raisi’s tour in 2023 to other countries of the Global South and allies of Russia – Cuba, US-sanctioned Nicaragua and Venezuela, that share what Raisi called “common enemies” –  both Ebrahim Raisi and President of Cuba Mihuel Diza-Canel said that their nations “have had to face heroically, with tenacious resistance, the sanctions, the pressures, the threats, the blockades and the indifference of US imperialism and its allies”. 

The death of President Raisi might have following implications of such ongoing efforts and for the transformations in the world order. Firstly, it depends on his successor and which policies will be followed further (most probably to continue such anti-Western sentiment). 

Secondly, the Gaza war will be enlarged towards the bigger conflict in the Middle East, and this might also further contribute to reshuffling regional and global alliances, based on countries and sides that will be taken by the regional and global actors. 

Thirdly, in this scenario, this also might have broader implications towards global security, including the war in Ukraine, and its further implications. For example, redirected focus on Iran towards the regional escalation might also affect its advanced collaborations with Russia; as the result, Russia will be less supported by its key ally in building a “new, fairer and more democratic system of international relations”, based on its concept of “world majority’. This might also affect the collaborations in defence fields, in addition to collaborations of building alternative financial and payment systems, efforts towards de-dollarisation.

There is no need to say, that potential military escalation in the region might affect the efforts of building the International North-South Transport corridor, which aims to build the trade connectivity between major cities, such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali.  In other words, all alternative routes and methods which were built and developed by countries of the Global South also might be challenged due to the event that occurred this Sunday. 

There are many discussions about the current world order, its advancements and changes, and whether or not we still live in a liberal one. However, given Raisi’s beliefs and rhetoric, it is possible that his passing will have an impact on how the world order develops, changes, and appears in the future.



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