US Condolences on Raisi’s Death Amid Controversy Over His Legacy

The United States extended condolences following the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, despite acknowledging his controversial past. Raisi, who had a significant role in mass executions and repression of protests, died along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and seven others in the crash, which occurred in foggy conditions.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed that Iran sought assistance from the US immediately after the crash. The US offered help but was unable to provide it due to logistical reasons. Miller did not elaborate on the communication methods but indicated that Iran needed urgent support to locate the helicopter.

The State Department issued an official statement offering condolences, emphasizing support for the Iranian people’s human rights and freedoms. President Joe Biden’s administration clarified that the condolences were standard protocol and did not imply support for Raisi’s actions. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby highlighted Raisi’s role in human rights abuses, describing him as having “a lot of blood on his hands.”

Condolences from the US and European nations sparked anger among opponents of Iran’s clerical regime. Women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad criticized the gesture, stating it aggravated the pain of the oppressed. Historically, the US has offered condolences to leaders it opposed, such as Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro, which similarly stirred controversy.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the US had no involvement in the crash and did not foresee any broader regional security impact. He attributed the incident to potential mechanical failure or pilot error, dismissing any suggestion of US interference. Iran’s military has initiated an investigation, with former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blaming US sanctions for hindering the maintenance of aviation parts. Miller countered by pointing to Iran’s decision to operate an old helicopter in poor weather conditions.

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