Foreign Reactions to the Iranian President’s Death

Foreign government reactions have been rolling in since approximately 1200 EST on May 19th, 2024, about three hours after Iranian President Raisi’s helicopter crashed in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. Foreign reactions can be categorized into two banks: pledges to assist in rescue operations, and reactions to the announcement of the President’s death this morning.

It is interesting to note that the first foreign reaction to the crash actually came from Hamas which released a press statement offering condolences and prayers towards the rescue operation by 1200 EST. While several foreign leaders expressed concern over the crash, to control the scope of this article, we will only focus on the pledges of rescue support, then transition to condolences after the confirmation of Raisi’s death.

Pledges to Assists in Rescue Operations

After the Iranian Health Ministry, Emergency Department, and Interior Ministry’s announced that more than 40 rescue teams had immense difficulty reaching the crash site, Iraqi Prime Minister was the first foreign leader to publicly offer materials and personnel towards the rescue effort. By 1300 EST, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Sudani directed the Minister of the Interior and the Iraqi Red Crescent to help search for the helicopter.

By 1400 EST, the European Union activated Copernicus Emergency Mangement Service upon request from Iran to help located the helicopter.

By 1500 EST, the Turkish Disaster Management Agency told press that 32 mountaineer search and rescue personnel (SAR), six vehicles and a night vision-enabled SAR helicopter had been ordered to arrive in Iran.

However, this would not be the only pledge of support from Ankara. By 1800 EST, a Turkish Bayraktar AKINCI drone entered Iranian airspace and was used to locate thermal signatures of the helicopter. Aviation watchers tracked the aircraft as it flew search circles below 10,000ft. By 2000 EST, Iranian and Turkish media reported that the Bayraktar had located the crash site and helped ground teams zero in on the President’s helicopter. There has been significant conflicting reporting on whether the Turkish drone actually located the crash site or just burning material from the crash. By 2200 EST, Iranian sources claimed the crash site had been located and by midnight had announced that there were no survivors onboard.

The first public announcement of Russian aid to the rescue operation came at about 1700 EST when President Putin ordered the deployment of two aircraft and 50 rescue personnel to Tabriz. At 1900 EST Russian Presidential Spokesperson Peskov said that President Putin had met with Iranian Ambassador to Russia Jalali, Defense Minister Belousov, General Staff Chief Gerasimov and Security Council Secretary Shoigu. By 2000 EST, the Russian Emergency Services Ministry shared video of an Il-76 aircraft being loaded with rescue personnel and a helicopter to depart for Tabriz. By 2100 EST, the plane had departed from Zhukovsky Airport in Moscow Oblast. By 2241 EST, the Russian Emergency Services Ministry confirmed a second Il-76 was being dispatched.

At 2200 EST, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed deep concerns over the helicopters “harsh landing” and that it would provide all necessary assistance and support.

Condolences Post Death Announcement

At approximately 2320 EST, Iranian state-owned media reported that President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and all other occupants of the helicopter were dead.

By Midnight, Venezuelan President Maduro was the first world leader to respond, saying he was “shocked by the hard news”.

Indian Prime Minister Modi followed at approximately 0045 EST, expressing his condolences over both the deaths.

By 0130 EST, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed his condolences. Also at 0130 EST, the Pakistani government announced that it would hold three days of mourning for those killed.

By 0200 EST, Azerbaijan President Aliyev expressed his condolences, followed shortly by Egyptian President al-Sisi by 0220 EST. By 0230 EST, Hezbollah had also released a statement for President Raisi and their “dear brother” Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian.

By 0250 EST, Qatari Prime Minister bin Abdul-Rahman expressed his condolences, followed shortly after another announcement from Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif who confirmed the three days of mourning throughout his country.

At 0250 EST, the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General al-Budaiwi released the following statement:

“[He] expressed his deepest condolences and sincere sympathy to the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of H.E. Dr. Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the accompanying delegation following the unfortunate crash of their plane. [He] also affirmed the solidarity of the Gulf Cooperation Council with the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances and reiterated to the families of the victims sincere condolences and deep sympathy on this great loss.”

Belarusian President Lukashenko sent his condolences by 0300 EST and said, “I will retain my warmest memories of meetings and conversation s with Mr. President who was a true friend.” This came at this same time as condolences offered by Jordanian King Abdullah II.
In addition to President al-Sisi, Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry also expressed his condolences.
By 0305, Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan expressed his condolences. This was quickly followed by a story by the Jerusalem Post which claimed that Israeli officials stated Israel had nothing to do with the crash, although no Israeli official made any public announcement of condolences.
By 0320 EST, the Lebanese government announced that three days of mourning would be held throughout the country over the crash. The PFLP also issued a statement of condolences at this time.
By 0330 EST, Russian Federation President Putin made his first public offer of condolences despite having regular meetings with the Iranian ambassador. By this time, the two overmentioned Il-76 aircraft had been recalled and returned to Moscow.
By 0330 EST, Malaysian Prime Minister Ibrahim also publicly offered his sympathies, followed by Iraqi Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister al-Aboudi who publicly mourned the loss of all souls onboard the helicopter. Malaysian Foreign Minister Hasan also published a statement after his president.
By 0340 EST, Turkish President Erdogan offered his public sympathies and said his country will “stand by the people of Iran during these difficult and sad times.” His announcement came at the same time as Uzbek President Mirziyoyev who expressed his condolences.

At 0420 EST, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a public message of condolences to Iran at the same time as Kazakh President Tokayev.

By 0445 EST, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President offered his public condolences, followed shortly by Syrian President Assad.

By 0500 EST, Iraqi Parliament Deputy Speaker Abdulah offered his public sympathies, at the same time the flags at Iranian embassies around the world were ordered to half-mast, as observed in Baku, Azerbaijan and around the world. May 21st has been declared a public day of mourning by the Iraqi government.

By 0540 EST, Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salmin offered their condolences to acting President Mokhber.

By 0600 EST, Polish President Duda offered his public condolences.

By 0620 EST, Filipino President Marcos shared his public sympathies to the people of Iran, followed shortly after by South African President Ramaphosa and Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov.

By 0630 Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali offered his public sympathies as well as former Iraqi Parliament Speaker al-Halbousi.

By 0645 EST, Tajik President Rahmon offered his public sympathies.

By 0700 EST, a string of Kuwaiti officials made public announcement including Emir Mishal al-Sabah and Prime Minister Ahmad al-Sabah. This came at the same time as Omani Sultan Haitham and Sadrist Movement Leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

By 0845 EST, Nigerian President Tinubu and former Afghan President Karzai also expressed their public sympathies. The Taliban have made no public comment.

Russian and Turkey Provide Most Help, Israel and U.S. Mute, China Sidelines

As of this publication, there are expected to be more announcements, especially as the cause of the crash is determined.

However, it is worth noting that while Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Azerbaijan, who all currently have varying levels of disagreements against Iran, have offered condolences, the United States and Israel have not. These two powers and much of Europe, especially Ukraine, are not expected to make a statement on the death of President Raisi. The somewhat muted Chinese response has been the most telling as Beijing seeks to increase cooperation with Iran, as demonstrated by this year’s naval exercises.

It is clear that the Russian Federation and Turkey have been the two most impactful foreign nations since the Iranian President went missing and has since been pronounced dead.

United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.


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