Exports reached a six-year high of 1.56 million bpd in Q1 2024

The deaths of the president and foreign minister are unlikely to alter foreign policy direction, but internal dynamics remain complex

Iran held elections in early March, which saw conservatives secure the bulk of seats for both parliament and the Assembly of Experts—tasked with supervising the supreme leader’s performance and appointing his successor.

This insight bite assesses Iran’s political outlook in 2024. It is part of a series of insight bites assessing Iran’s 2024 outlook following the March elections, which includes one on the consumer outlook and one on the public spending outlook.

The sudden death of key Iranian leaders, including President Ebrahim Raisi, will do little to change Iran’s foreign and security policy. Despite this, internal political dynamics remain complex: uncertainty surrounding the political transition will likely spill over into the economy: the rial will continue to fluctuate on the parallel market, spiking inflation and straining household incomes and business operations. In the longer term, a potential return to nuclear negotiations may benefit Iran’s economic recovery, although this is unlikely in the foreseeable future.


  • Iranian President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and several other officials were found dead on Monday, hours after their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported.
  • Israel has denied involvement in the helicopter crash. 
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced Monday that Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, would serve as the country’s acting president until elections are held, with Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani appointed as acting foreign minister.
  • A council, comprising the speaker of parliament, the head of the judicial branch, and the president’s first deputy, must arrange an election within 50 days.
  • Previous Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sought to blame the US for the crash in an interview Monday, stating that “one of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States” due to ongoing sanctions on the sale of aircraft and aviation parts to Iran. 
  • Oil prices held steady on Monday, with Brent crude at USD 83.63 a barrel and WTI at USD 79.63 a barrel at the time of writing.
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to Iran, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

Our View

  • Internal Political Dynamics: The implications of Raisi’s death will not be detrimental to the functioning of the political system, but will likely impact intra-hardliner competition and intensify internal political struggles. Factions within the hardline camp were already competing for the speaker of parliament role, with this now extending to the role of the presidency. Raisi was also rumored to have been a potential candidate for the next supreme leader and was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, with the new head supposed to be determined this week. His death means that Khamenei’s son Mojtaba is now the only (public) contender for Supreme Leader, which in itself will be highly contested given the country’s history with inherited rule. Large-scale protests related to the incident remain unlikely, and we maintain the view that smaller, sporadic protests against deteriorating economic conditions are likely.
  • Iran’s Foreign Policy: The Iranian government has refrained from attributing the crash to any external or internal actors, signaling an unwillingness to escalate regional tensions. Raisi’s death will not alter regional policy priorities, as strategic decisions are set by the Supreme Leader and the IRGC. Subsequently, Iran’s foreign policy will remain consistent, with continued tensions with the West as the government remains closely aligned with Russia, cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains limited, and proxy activity in the region is maintained. Regionally, Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia will not be impacted, and the former will maintain its stance on the war in Gaza, maintaining proxy activity across Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.
  • Nuclear Deal: The Raisi administration had maintained a hawkish approach to nuclear negotiations. Despite this, prior to the war in Gaza, an increase in back-channel, indirect negotiations with the US resulted in a prisoner exchange and the transfer of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets from banks in South Korea to Qatar. Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA has proven difficult, and the ongoing war in Gaza has effectively paused these negotiations. Despite this, the appointment of Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister, who played a critical role in nuclear negotiations and led the mediation efforts between Iran and the US amid the prisoner deal, may drive more fruitful dialogue between Iran and the West. Risks to the outlook include a severe escalation in the war in Gaza, which would prompt more direct Israeli attacks against Iran, driving the latter to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.
  • Oil: Raisi’s death is unlikely to alter Iran’s oil policy, with the country likely to maintain a steady supply of both exports and production. (Exports reached a six-year high of 1.56 million bpd in Q1 2024). The aftermath of the incident is also unlikely to cause a jump in prices. FrontierView expects Iran’s oil production to continue to increase in 2024, averaging 3.1–3.4 million bpd. Risks to the outlook include a stricter reinforcement of US sanctions and weaker Chinese demand.
  • Currency: The Iranian rial has seen relative stability in recent weeks after reaching historic lows in mid-April following tit-for-tat exchanges with Israel. On Saturday, before news of the incident broke, it had appreciated to its strongest rate since February, but then depreciated to around IRR 600,000 to the dollar after the helicopter crash was announced. FrontierView expects the black market rate to fluctuate between 500,000 and 600,000 to the dollar for the next three months amid continued sanctions enforcement and the absence of regional de-escalation efforts amid the war in Gaza.

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