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Expert Predicts ‘New Wave’ Of Iran Emigres

Iran-- arrested youth in night party, undated
Iran-- arrested youth in night party, undated

Given the new economic situation in Iran, a new wave of emigration could be looming, a population expert has suggested.

Speaking with the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), a member of the Population Studies Institution (PSI), Bahram Salavati, says the current economic situation in Iran might encourage people to emigrate and even urge former emigres to leave the country again.

He admitted, however, that there is no specific information available on the new wave of immigration and its details are still unclear.

Although the new U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic have not been implemented yet, Iran’s economy is already showing signs of unprecedented fluctuations on its foreign exchange market, highlighted by skyrocketing prices of gold and foodstuffs, while the national currency, the rial, is significantly losing its value against the dollar.

Furthermore, a shortage of water and frequent power outages in recent months have deepened public dissatisfaction with the authorities’ performance

People are also deeply unhappy that only one of the dozens of credit institutes that lost money on behalf of thousands of depositors has been legally prosecuted.

Referring to research on “the willingness to emigrate,” conducted by Gallup, Salavati noted that nearly 1.8 million Iranians had an inclination to emigrate in 2015.”

According to Salavati, 20 percent of Iranian university graduates are currently unemployed, while there are 51,600 Iranians studying in different countries across the world.

“It is a matter of grave concern that Iranian youth are replacing universities in USA and Canada with the ones in India and Philippines,” he said.

Meanwhile, many young Iranian experts who returned to serve their country have experienced unpredictable consequences, including being imprisoned.

Recently, 36-year-old Iranian scientist and environmentalist Kaveh Madani returned to serve as deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE).

Madani, renowned as the “Symbol of Expatriate Return” to Iran during Hassan Rouhani’s second term of presidency, was detained and interrogated to the extent that he was forced to leave the country.

The scientist’s experience is an example of how an inefficient, corrupt, and nontransparent mafia-like managerial class becomes a powerful deterrent force preventing highly motivated young men and women who wish to serve their country from re-engaging with Iranian society, analysts say.

Many young Iranians who return home hoping to make a difference end up disillusioned and disappointed, Paris-based Iranian researcher Saeid Payvandi told Radio Farda.

“Beyond the global trend of brain drain affecting all economically troubled countries, Iran’s wealthy and educated elites leave their native country because of the nontransparent political system, censorship, suppression of civil society, religious, cultural, political, and gender-based discrimination, a rouge judiciary system, a parallel government of the security apparatus, widespread financial mismanagement and corruption, and tense relations with other countries,” he said.

Countries like South Korea, Brazil, and South Africa have managed to control or even reverse the brain drain trend by introducing political and economic changes and other reforms, showing that when an economy is healthy, culture and the sciences can also flourish with the help of a returning diaspora.

But Iran’s elites will never return when they are harassed and intimidated or accused of being spies and their families threatened. Quite on the contrary, this attitude will keep them abroad, which may be what the ruling powers in Iran really want.

Most of the Iranian scientists who have left the country argue that while there isn’t much oppression in their field, bureaucracy, dim job prospects, and the lack of equipment are “unbearable.”

In the meantime, the United States remains the favorite destination for young Iranians who long to live abroad.