The death of hardliner Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi may trigger a huge reaction, already sparking conspiracy theories and instability.

For the moment, they are just theories, but questions are being asked about why he was risking such a perilous flight in appalling weather in an old helicopter. Even though conspiracies may be untrue, they can still be used to spread insecurity and mayhem, at an already extremely perilous time for Iran.

It is juggling the balance between all-out war and missile attacks from its Hezbollah Lebanese and Yemeni Houthis against Israel over the Gaza war. Iran is also facing the possible eradication of Hamas in Gaza which has afforded it an extension of terrorist leverage for years.

Its regime is suffering major civil unrest over its oppression of the population, not helped by soaring 40% inflation, crippling sanctions and widespread corruption. Islamic State, too, is a major threat, killing close to 100 in Iran in a terror attack in January, and repeated Israeli assassinations of military leaders have hugely undermined the regime.

Search teams looking through the wreckage art the site 
Anadolu via Getty Images)

For the moment, this was an accident in a US-made Bell 212, possibly 50 years old, and making a difficult flight in dreadful conditions that thwarted a search and rescue operation for hours. But there will be a behind-the-scenes jockeying for power as Raisi was in line for the all-powerful position as Supreme Leader, currently held by 85-year-old Ayotollah Ali Khameini.

This leaves the Ayotollah’s son Mojtaba a possible candidate - a candidacy that could spread unrest throughout Iran over nepotism claims. Key to the aftermath of his helicopter crash - which also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian - will be the reaction of the all-powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Raisi was caretaker of Iran’s domestic political scene, wielding possibly less power than the head of the IRGC which leads Iran’s foreign policy and national security. They will be desperate to cement their position and clamp down on any dissent, which has been rising for some time across Iran.

We may well see the IRGC flexing it muscles via its terrorist arms in Lebanon and Yemen, even though it definitely does not want to lose Hezbollah in Lebanon. That would almost certainly be the result of all-out war with Israel.

Despite repeated losses of nuclear of scientists to Israeli Mossad hit squads and military leaders to Israeli and US missiles, the IRGC needs an easy transition of power to the new President. And that leaves a possible 50 days of more instability in the region. That’s when the deadline for a new Presidential election expires.