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Raisi's death adds to volatility as conflict shakes the Middle East

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash Sunday quickly set in motion a leadership transition that officials insisted would leave the Islamic republic in steady hands and would probably lead to little change in the country's direction, analysts said.

"The Iranian nation shouldn't be worried," said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, according to state media. Raisi was seen as an enforcer of Khamenei's edicts, rather than an independent actor, according to analysts.

But if there was uncertainty caused by Raisi's death, it was in its timing: during an escalating confrontation between Iran and Israel that has stoked alarm in the Middle East and beyond. The conflict, a hair-trigger affair set off by the war in Gaza, has manifested in rising violence on Lebanon's southern border, in the Red Sea, and in Syria and Iraq.


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