15 June, 2024
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Eye on Iran as president goes missing in chopper crash

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No signs of life have been found at the crash site of a helicopter carrying Iran’s president, with a former detainee saying his death would shake up the regime’s politics.

The wreckage of a helicopter that crashed while carrying Iran’s president has been found with “no signs of life” on board, state media report.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were travelling on the aircraft when it crashed over mountainous terrain in heavy fog.

The head of Iran’s Red Crescent said the situation “does not look good”, while rescue attempts have been hampered by poor weather.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
 Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is missing after his helicopter crashed in bad weather. Image by AP PHOTO 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had been keeping track of news of the helicopter crash.

“We’ve seen the reports, there’s little more that I can add to those reports at this time,” he told ABC Radio on Monday before the wreckage was located.

“The reports indicated that a helicopter carrying the Iranian president and the foreign minister has not arrived at its destination.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sought to provide calm following the crash, saying there would be no disruption to governance.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the crash, while the European Union has offered satellite mapping technology to help with the search.

Macquarie University research fellow Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who spent more than 800 days in an Iranian jail on false espionage charges, said there would be some levels of continuity but also uncertainty for leadership.

“It’s going to destabilise and shake up Iranian politics, irrespective of the fact that the guy on top, Ali Khamenei, remains in power,” Dr Moore-Gilbert told Sky News.

“It would have quite a destabilising effect in that you would see a power struggle emerge amongst various hardliners as to who will succeed Ebrahim Raisi, but it’s also throwing the succession to Ali Khamenei into question.”

Kylie Moore-Gilbert
 Former detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert says the death of Iran’s president would create uncertainty. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Albanese indicated Australia had been working with allied countries to de-escalate tensions in Iran, in an effort to prevent conflict in the Middle East from spreading.

Iran and Israel have traded missiles in recent months while Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launched strikes on targets in the nearby Red Sea.

“We’re very much focused on de-escalation, we want to continue to work as we have been, with the international community to increase pressure on Iran to cease its destabilising actions,” Mr Albanese said.

“We have been very much focused on wanting to see the conflict in the Middle East to stop it from spreading and to see de-escalation in region.”

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