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Death of a President: What a Helicopter Crash Means for Iran, the U.S., and the World

Plus, former ICC chief prosecutor on arrest warrant application for Netanyahu.

“Raisi very much was someone that they were banking on, and now their plans have to go back to square one. On your question about this new guy…his mandate is to do nothing.”

 -  Iran expert Trita Parsi on finding Raisi’s successor

Since the sudden death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash this week, there have been a lot of hot takes on what this means for Iran. Why does it matter? What does it mean for the Iranian people? This week on ‘Mehdi Unfiltered’, we thought we’d speak to an expert to help us make sense of it all. Have a listen to what author and analyst Trita Parsi had to say. 

Plus, former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and UN Special Rapporteur Francesca P. Albanese join Mehdi to lay out just how consequential the ICC’s request for Israeli arrest warrants is. 

On Iran…

This past weekend, a helicopter crash in the northwest province of East Azerbaijan left no survivors, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. His death comes not only as fighting continues between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel, but also just a little over a month since Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel.

Iranian-American relations expert Trita Parsi joined Mehdi to discuss the elephant in the room – whether there was any “foul play” involved with his death, or if anyone is blaming Israel or the U.S. for the crash. 

“The regime has a very clear interest in denying that there could have been anything else but an accident, because if there, for instance, had been an Israeli hand in all of this…it would show that the Iranians failed with their attack last month. They did not establish a new equation. They did not restore deterrence,” Parsi said. “Now, having said that, there’s no evidence that the Israelis were behind this.”

Iran has, of course, said they will be holding new elections on June 28th to choose a successor for Raisi, but Parsi tells Mehdi that participation will once again be low, just as it was in March’s parliamentary election

“The people have lost faith in the idea that change can come through the ballot box. Now they [Iran] are going to be dealt with a crisis, because if they have even record low elections in this one that is upcoming right now, it really takes away a key thing that they had treated as a dose of legitimacy,” Parsi said. 

On the ICC and Israel…

In his monologue, Mehdi called out the GOP’s failed attempt to stop ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan from requesting arrest warrants for the Israeli government over the war in Gaza, after 12 Republicans threatened him and his family in a letter sent in April. 

“The GOP – and in fact, all of the Israeli government’s western allies – better start scrambling because in an earthquake move, the chief prosecutor… requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defense minister Yoav Gallant.” 

Mehdi pointed out that Khan’s historic request marks the, “first time an ICC prosecutor has ever gone after the leader of a western country or one of its close allies.”

Former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese joined Mehdi to discuss the implications of this request, with Albanese calling it a “game-changer.”

Albanese, who previously issued a report calling Israel’s war on Gaza a genocide, reminded viewers that although this is the first time the ICC is taking major action against an Israeli leader, it does not necessarily mark the first time Israel has committed war crimes. 

“There were opportunities and obligations to investigate the [Israel’s] war crimes and crimes against humanity … before the 7th of October. The failure we are under is testament to the lack of effectiveness of that system,” Albanese said. “We can turn the tides now, and this is the challenge of all member states.”

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