Top US diplomat says Iranian people ‘better off’ without President Raisi

Antony Blinken claimed it was good that late Iranian leader can no longer engage in “horrible acts”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been forced to defend his department for offering condolences on behalf of Washington over the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, claiming it was just a formality.

In a brief statement on Monday, the US State Department expressed its “official condolences” over the deaths of Raisi and other Iranian officials – while making sure to reaffirm Washington’s “support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, Blinken was grilled over the statement, with Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) claiming it was “shocking” that the US administration would mourn a “sworn enemy of the free world.”

“We expressed official condolences as we’ve done when countries – adversaries, enemies or not – have lost leaders,” Blinken explained. “It changes nothing about the fact that Mr. Raisi was engaged in reprehensible conduct, including repressing his own people for many years.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pressed further, asking whether the top US diplomat believed “the world is better today now that Raisi is dead.”

“Given the horrible acts that he engaged in, both as a judge and as president, to the extent that he can no longer engage in them, yes, the Iranian people are probably better off,” Blinken said.

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Raisi and several other senior officials, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were killed on Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in went down in the mountainous East Azerbaijan province in northwest Iran. After more than ten hours of searching – hampered by fog and rain – the president and his entourage were found and confirmed dead.

Iran has announced it will hold a presidential election on June 28. In the meantime, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has taken on the role of Acting President of Iran following Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s approval on Monday.

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