The New York Times - Tuesday Briefing: What’s next for Iran

Also, an international prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for leaders of Israel and Hamas.
Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

May 21, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering the death of Iran’s president and an international prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

Plus, how big is Taylor Swift?

A woman holding a poster of Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, stands in the crowd.
Mourners gathered in Tehran yesterday. Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

Iran’s leaders move to project stability after the president’s death

The Iranian authorities have aimed to project order and control after President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed in a helicopter crash. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, would assume the role of acting president and must organize elections within 50 days.

Here is the latest.

Raisi’s death not only sets the stage for new presidential elections but also opens a new chapter of instability for the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s long-simmering shadow war with Israel burst out into the open after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, and the countries traded direct attacks. Domestically, many Iranians are calling for an end to clerical rule, and corruption and international sanctions have ravaged the economy. Khamenei is 85 and in declining health. Raisi, a conservative who crushed dissent, had been viewed as a possible successor.

Crash details: Iranian state media blamed a “technical failure.” Some suggested that decades of international sanctions played a role by preventing Iran from buying new Western planes or spare parts.

Analysis: Iran’s next leaders — who are almost certain to be hard-liners — will have to choose whether they will continue to operate with caution in their confrontations with the U.S.

Juxtaposed images of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, wearing a blue jacket, a white shirt and a blue tie, and of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, wearing a blue shirt and a keffiyeh.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, left, and Yahya Sinwar of Hamas. Left, Pool photo by Amir Cohen; Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Arrest warrants sought for Israeli and Hamas leaders

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza. Khan wants to charge the two with crimes against humanity in connection with the war in Gaza and the Oct. 7 attack.

The prosecutor also applied for warrants for Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, as well as Muhammad Deif, Hamas’s military leader, and Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s Qatar-based political leader.

Judges must approve Khan’s request, but Israel isn’t a member of the court and doesn’t recognize its jurisdiction in Israel or Gaza, making this a largely symbolic gesture. If warrants are issued, those named could be arrested in any of the court’s 124 member nations, which include most European countries but not the U.S.

Reaction: President Biden condemned Khan’s decision to seek warrants for Israeli and Hamas officials at the same time. He said that “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Reaction: The U.S. condemned the decision. President Biden accused Khan of equating Israel and Hamas, saying that “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Details: Khan said he believed that the members of Hamas named were responsible for murder as a crime against humanity, hostage taking, rape and torture for the Oct. 7 raid.

He also said the Israeli leaders bore criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including using starvation as a weapon of war and “directing attacks against a civilian population.”

Donald Trump standing with another male speaking in a hallway in court.
Donald Trump speaking to reporters at court. Pool photo by Mark Peterson

Prosecution rests in Trump’s trial

The marathon cross-examination of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer and the key witness in his trial, ended yesterday. With that, the prosecution’s case concluded.

Cohen admitted to all manner of bad behavior, including lying, bullying and theft from the Trump Organization. Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche — who has elicited testimony from Cohen about lying under oath in past cases — also sought to cast him as profiting off his association with Trump.

What’s next: Closing arguments will most likely not occur until next Tuesday, according to the judge.

Blanche suggested to the judge that the defense could call three witnesses. He did not mention Trump; the former president could take the stand in his own defense, but people close to the case are skeptical that he will. Here’s how the rest of the trial could play out.

MORE TOP NEWS

A man in a blue suit raises his right hand as if taking an oath, before an audience in a grand hall.
President Lai Ching-te took his oath in Taipei. Chi Chih-Hsiang/Taipei News Photographer Association, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MORNING READ

Two barefoot men bent forward in prayer on  rugs in the room of a house.
Ziya Us Salam, front, at his home in India. Saumya Khandelwal for The New York Times

Muslims in India are struggling to live and raise their children in what is now a largely Hindu-first country. They know India’s leaders do not want them. They struggle to rent homes and feel dear friends pulling away. Their neighbors are cold. They wonder if they should leave for good.

It is a lifeless life,” said Ziya Us Salam, a writer who lives on the outskirts of Delhi with his family.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times.

ARTS AND IDEAS

A GIF gradually zooming in on a picture of Taylor Swift’s face.

How big is Taylor Swift?

Taylor Swift is everywhere. “The Tortured Poets Department” earned Swift her eighth Billboard No. 1 album since 2020. In February, she became the first artist to win a fourth Grammy for album of the year.

But how does her success stack up against her peers, like Beyoncé and Drake? And what about the greatest artists in pop history? Even Billy Joel said he could only compare her popularity to Beatlemania. So we crunched the numbers. This is what we learned.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A cast-iron skillet full of kung pao tofu scattered with chopped cilantro.
Kelly Marshall for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Cook: Use tofu in this vegetarian take on kung pao chicken.

Create: Before you embark on a search for the perfect vintage digital camera, read this.

Travel: Minorca is quieter and wilder than its touristy neighbors, Ibiza and Majorca.

Play: Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

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