Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
efficiently shape policies toward the Islamic Republic, it is vital to pay
attention to the voices of the Iranian diaspora residing outside Iran for
all, Iran has a sizable diaspora with over five million Iranians living abroad.
Although most of the Iranian immigrants left Iran in 1979, a considerable amount
of Iranians continued to leave Iran, reaching a peak in the early 1990s, and
again more recently because of the sharp increase in the brain drain. Iran has
reportedly the highest brain drain in the world, with approximately 150,000
educated individuals leaving the country every year.
due to the socio-economic status of the Iranian expatriates, they can be a
robust platform in potentially helping to change the destructive behavior of
the Iranian government and transforming Iran into a more prosperous and
to several nuanced reports, including a study conducted by Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Iranians abroad have managed to create a successful
immigration story wherever they form a diaspora. Reportedly, the Iranian
diaspora in the United States is among the most highly educated people in the
country and has excelled in various sectors, including science, arts, business
and academia. A combined net worth of the Iranian diaspora is more than $1.3
trillion, as many hold high level positions in Fortune 500 companies, elite
American universities and the medical profession.
result, understanding the aspirations and demands of the Iranian diaspora
toward the Islamic Republic could be instrumental in helping foreign
governments form policies toward the ruling clerics of Iran.
understand what the Iranians living abroad want to change in Iran, it is
important to look back at the reasons which forced them to leave their country.
Iranians left Iran when the theocratic establishment came to power. The
immigration trend continued under the Islamic Republic as several important
rights including religious freedom, freedom of speech, press, and assembly,
equal opportunities and women rights were suppressed with the regime’s iron
establishment in 1979, the Iranian regime has considered Iranian expatriates as
a threat and has viewed them through the prism of suspicion or foreign
That is why
the regime has repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and tortured dual citizens.
Currently, dual citizens held as political prisoners in Iran include
Iranian-Americans Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Neyssari, and Baquer and
Siamak Namazi, as well as the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,
who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news
perspective of the Iranian leaders, Western infiltration is much more of a
threat than other factors. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei famously
warned against those who “infiltrate in a country or society, and control the
culture of that society by imposing their own culture on them, will try to
weaken the foundations of the family in that society, as one important
strategy. This has been done in many countries, unfortunately. Men are made
irresponsible, and women are made immoral.” He added that “It is the loss of
cultural identity that leaves nations defenceless and captured in the hands of
foreigners. This is facilitated by the collapse of the foundation of families
partly why the theocratic establishment has also routinely targeted the
families and relatives of those Iranians who live outside the country,
particularly in the West.
addition, the overwhelming majority of Iranians who live abroad want to see a
democratic Iran. Recently, thousands of Iranian Americans attended a rally in
Washington DC laying out their demands, which included imposing sanctions on
Iran’s top leaders, particularly the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They also
chanted “Change, change, change. Regime change in Iran.”
always important to come and be in solidarity with Iranian Americans who are
for regime change. And also to show the Iranian people and the rest of the
world that there is a strong resistance that’s been around for 40, 50 years,
and make sure they hear our voices loud and clear,” Los Angeles resident
Delaram Ahmady, 26, told the Washington Examiner. “We don’t want an attack, we
don’t want war. We just want to back the Iranian people and the Iranian
resistance,” she added.
House took notice of the rally of the Iranian Americans, as the Vice President
Mike Pence said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday: “What we want to do is stand
with the Iranian people, thousands of whom gathered outside the White House on
Friday, and thousands of whom took to the streets last year in communities
regime fears the Iranian diaspora because of its influence and hopes of
establishing a democratic system of governance in Iran. To pressure the Tehran
regime, the international community must listen to the voices of the Iranian
diaspora and support them.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated
Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign
policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council.
Source: The Arab News