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Iran is facing uncertainty following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash along with other senior government officials. The crash occurred in bad weather near Varzaqan, Iran, after Raisi’s entourage returned from an event in Azerbaijan. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has been designated as acting president to manage an election within 50 days. Iran’s government council has stated that the administration will continue to operate without disruption, indicating geopolitical continuity with Mokhber’s hardline background.

Despite the tragic event, there is unlikely to be a significant shift in Iran’s foreign policy, particularly in its support for regional proxies like Hezbollah, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hamas. The power brokers in Iran remain the Supreme Leader and Revolutionary Guard Corps, with the President playing a less significant role. The U.S., U.K., and European Union are not expected to ease sanctions on Iran, especially given Tehran’s continued belligerence over its nuclear program. Iran’s oil exports, despite international sanctions, are expected to continue at relatively high levels, driven by demand from China.

Iran’s Petroleum Minister, Javad Owji, will have little impact at the next OPEC meeting given Iran’s exemption from production cuts. Iran’s oil exports to China are at a five-year high, with export volumes averaging 1.61 million bpd in March. The country’s production of over 3 million bpd accounts for around 3% of the world’s total production. The upcoming election to appoint a new President is likely to result in another hardliner amenable to the Supreme Leader, maintaining the status quo in energy markets and Middle Eastern geopolitics.

Overall, the death of President Raisi is not expected to bring about a significant change in Iran’s domestic or foreign policies. The country will continue to support its regional proxies and face ongoing international sanctions. With a new President likely to be appointed soon, the hardliners’ grip on power in Iran is expected to remain strong. The energy markets, particularly Iran’s oil exports, are likely to continue at current levels, with minimal impact on global supply. The geopolitical landscape in the Middle East is also expected to see little change following this tragic event.

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