Can the death of the Iranian president affect Azerbaijani-Iranian relations?

The recent death of Iranian President Seyed Ibrahim Raisi has raised questions about its potential impact on Azerbaijani-Iranian relations. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev described his last meeting with Raisi on May 19 as "historic," expressing his condolences at the Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan on May 21.

"My last meeting with him was historic. Both he and I called this meeting historic. Our joint participation in the opening of a major infrastructure project on the state border was evidence of the strength of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations," Aliyev said. He emphasized that this meeting was a clear message to both nations and the world that Azerbaijan and Iran are friends and will continue to collaborate closely.

Aliyev recounted the detailed discussions held during their two-hour bilateral meeting, which covered future directions for Azerbaijani-Iranian relations and specific infrastructure projects. He expressed confidence that the agreements reached would be implemented by the new leadership in Iran, as they reflect the strong political will of both nations.

Political commentator Nasimi Mammadli, speaking on the program "Difficult Question," suggested that the helicopter crash that killed Raisi was likely caused by weather conditions or human error. He noted the Bell 212 helicopter's notorious reputation among Turkish pilots, who refer to it as a "flying coffin."

However, Mammadli did not dismiss the possibility of sabotage, given Iran's strained relations with most of its neighbors, Israel, the United States, and even some European countries. He pointed out the internal power struggles within Iran's clerical regime, with many vying for leadership as the current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ages. Raisi was seen as a strong contender for Khamenei's position, potentially making him a target for rivals.

Despite Raisi's death, Mammadli believes that the direction of Iranian-Azerbaijani relations is unlikely to change significantly. He argued that it was Khamenei, not Raisi, who had spearheaded the normalization of relations with Azerbaijan. Since Iran's foreign policy is determined by the supreme leader (Rahbar), rather than the president, Raisi's passing should not alter the established course of rapprochement.

. The resilience of Azerbaijani-Iranian relations, built on shared projects and mutual interests, will likely depend on the continued alignment of strategic goals between the two nations.

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