Raisi’s Death: World Reaction

The death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash elicited condolences from across the world, including the United States, a key adversary. But U.S. officials were quick to stress that Raisi was responsible for human rights abuses and complicit in Iran’s support for terrorism. “No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands,” said John Kirby of the National Security Council. “That said, as we would in any other case, we certainly regret in general the loss of life, and offered official condolences as appropriate.” The United States boycotted a U.N. tribute for Raisi scheduled for May 30. 

Iran’s allies and partners expressed regrets without reservations. “As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighborly relations between our countries and made great efforts to advance them to the level of strategic partnership,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “the Chinese people have lost a good friend.” The following are world reactions. 


United States

State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement on May 20

“The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran.  As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”


State Department Spokesperson Miller to reporters on May 20

“One, we have been quite clear that Ebrahim Raisi was a brutal participant in the repression of the Iranian people for nearly four decades. He was involved in numerous horrific human rights abuses, including playing a key role in the extrajudicial killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Some of the worst human rights abuses occurred during his tenure as president, especially the human rights abuses against the women and girls of Iran.

“That said, we regret any loss of life. We don’t want to see anyone die in a helicopter crash. But that doesn’t change the reality of his record both as a judge and as the president of Iran and the fact that he has blood on his hands. So, I think, most importantly, our fundamental approach to Iran has not changed and will not change. We will continue to support the people of Iran, to defend their human rights, their aspirations to an open, free society and democratic participation. And we will continue to confront the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism, its proliferation of dangerous weapons, and its advancement of nuclear – its nuclear program in ways that have no credible civilian purpose.”

“We were asked for assistance by the Iranian Government. We did make clear to them that we would offer assistance, as we would do in response to any request by a foreign government in this sort of situation. And ultimately, we were not able to provide that assistance.”


John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications on May 20

“Offering condolences is a typical practice. I mean, President Raisi was responsible for atrocious human rights in his own country — the arrest and the physical violence against hundreds of protesters, for instance.  And, of course, he’s responsible for the support that Iran provides — or he was responsible for the support that Iran provided terrorist networks throughout the region, which obviously led to — the support that he’d given Hamas led to the slaughter of 1,200 innocent Israeli people on the 7th of October.

“No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands.  That said, as we would in any other case, we certainly regret in general the loss of life, and offered official condolences as appropriate. 

“Now, as for this claim about U.S. sanctions being responsible, it’s utterly baseless.  The cause of the crash, of course, isn’t clear, at least not clear to us.  But I would note, Aamer, that Iranian official sources were out there citing poor flying conditions as a cause for concern, specifically fog. 

“And every country, no matter who they are, has a responsibility, their own responsibility, to ensure the safety and reliability of its equipment, and that includes civil aviation.  So, again, totally baseless accusation.  No truth to it.  And it’s not surprising, sadly, but not surprising that the Iranian regime would once again find a way to try to blame the United States for problems of its own making.”

“We don’t anticipate any change in Iranian behavior, and, therefore, the Iranians should not expect any change in American behavior when it comes to holding them accountable.”


National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on May 22

“All I can say is we had nothing to do with it.  And if at any point Iran tries to accuse us of having anything to do with it, we will push back extremely strongly, directly, and vociferously.”


European Union

President of the European Council Charles Michel on May 20


High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on May 20

“The European Union offers its condolences for the death of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian and other Iranian officials involved in the tragic helicopter crash on Sunday.

“The EU expresses its sympathies to the families of all the victims and to the Iranian citizens affected.”


North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah on May 20

“Our condolences to the people of #Iran for the death of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and others who perished in the helicopter crash.”



President Vladimir Putin on May 20

“Please accept our deepest condolences in connection with the great tragedy that befell the Islamic Republic of Iran – a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi and several other prominent government leaders of your country.

“Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving his Motherland. He enjoyed the well-deserved respect of his compatriots and high prestige beyond his country. As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighborly relations between our countries and made great efforts to advance them to the level of strategic partnership.

“I have had the privilege of meeting Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi on multiple occasions, and I will always cherish the fond memories of this wonderful man. Please convey my heartfelt condolences and support to the family and friends of the late President, as well as to all those affected by this tragic incident. I extend my wishes for strength to the Iranian people as they navigate through this challenging and irreparable loss.”



President Xi Jinping on May 20

Readout: On behalf of the Chinese government and the people of China, Xi expressed deep condolences and extended sincere sympathies to Mokhber, the family of President Raisi, and the Iranian government and people.

Xi said that since President Raisi took office, he made important contributions to maintaining Iran's security and stability and promoting national development and prosperity. He added that Raisi also made positive efforts to consolidate and deepen the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.

Raisi's tragic death is a great loss to the Iranian people, and the Chinese people also lost a good friend, Xi said.

The Chinese government and Chinese people cherish the traditional friendship between China and Iran, Xi said, noting that with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership will continue to consolidate and develop.

President Raisi and President Xi


Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 19

“The government of Saudi Arabia is following with great concern what was circulated in the media regarding the helicopter carrying Iran’s President Dr. Ebrahim Raisi and an accompanying delegation. At a time when we supplicate God Almighty to safeguard the president and those accompanying him with His protection and care, we reaffirm that Saudi Arabia stands by the sisterly Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances.”



President Bashar al Assad on May 20

“President Raisi’s dedication to his career and performance of his responsibilities brought him to East Azerbaijan Province to inaugurate a vital project for his country, making him a martyr for the sake of duty.”

“We worked with the late President to ensure that the strategic relations between Syria and Iran remains always prosperous, and we will always remember his visit to Syria as an important milestone in this path, and all the visions and ideas that he presented to enrich relations with everything that benefits the Syrian and Iranian peoples.”



Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani on May 20

“We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, and to the nation of Iran, its government and people.

“We express our solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people and the officials of the Islamic Republic during this painful tragedy.”



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 20

“As a colleague who personally witnessed his efforts for the peace of the Iranian people and our region during his time in power, I remember Mr. Raisi with respect and gratitude.”



Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on May 20



Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 20



Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund on May 20

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and all Afghans are deeply saddened and affected by this tragic event.”

“We share the grief of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country's people and offer our condolences to all the families of the victims, the nation and the government of Iran.”


Palestinian Authority

President Mahmoud Abbas on May 20

"We extend our sincere condolences and sympathy to the brotherly Iranian people for the passing of the late President Ibrahim Raisi and the Foreign Minister, praying to Almighty God to bestow His vast mercy upon the deceased Iranian President and the others, and to grant patience and solace to their families, affirming the solidarity of the State of Palestine and its people with the Iranian leadership and people in this great affliction."


United Arab Emirates

President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on May 20



Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on May 20

“Sincere condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and the accompanying officials in the painful helicopter accident, asking God Almighty for mercy and forgiveness for them and for their families with patience and solace. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.”



President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on May 20

“The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt … prays that the deceased Iranian President and the departed may rest in God Almighty’s mercy, and grant their families patience and solace, expressing the solidarity of the Arab Republic of Egypt with the Iranian leadership and people in this terrible incident.”



King Abdullah on May 20

"My deepest condolences to the brothers, leadership, government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of Brother President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Brother Hossein Amir Abdullahian and those accompanying them, may God have mercy on them all."

"We stand in solidarity with our brothers in Iran in this difficult circumstance."



Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on May 20



President Ilham Aliyev on May 20