The first front of competition is the vacant presidency. In line with constitutional provisions for death or incapacitation, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has instructed Raisi’s deputy, Mohammad Mokhber, who now assumes a caretaker role, to work with parliamentary and judiciary heads and organise presidential elections within 50 days. If recent contests for the legislature and executive are a precedent, oversight bodies will cull the field of candidates to exclude all but the most conservative hopefuls.

The next front is even more consequential, though not as immediate. Raisi was thought to be a leading contender for succeeding the octogenarian Khamenei in the system’s top post. True or not, it underscores the wider and more fundamental challenges facing the system writ large – seeking to perpetuate its survival in the face of myriad challenges, yet doubling down on exclusionary policies that only increase their severity.

As far as foreign policy, Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian’s remits and authority were limited. Decisions by the executive branch and foreign ministry are checked not only by the Supreme Leader, but other powerful actors, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Aside from its domestic role, where it is part of the state’s coercive apparatus as well as a powerful economic actor in its own right, the IRGC plays the lead in developing and executing the Islamic Republic’s regional policy, including its ties with an array of non-state allies stretching from Yemen to Lebanon. This has been especially evident in the period since the start of the Gaza war in October 2023, which has seen elevated tensions with the United States and Israel, most notably in the unprecedented exchanges that took place last month when Tehran launched direct drone and missile attacks against Israel.

Further afield, the Islamic Republic has grown increasingly aligned with Russia and China, while relations with Europe are at a nadir – not least over Tehran’s military ties to Moscow. The order of the day will be continuity rather than change, but continuity – whether on the regional front or the nuclear program – nevertheless carries deep risks for a system trying to weather multiple storms.

This article first appeared in The Interpreter, published by the Lowy Institute.