Erik Moberg ©:




Iran has a population of 81.6 million (Table 2 above). In this population 99.4 % are Muslims (Table 3 above), and among these Muslims some 90-95 % are Shiites. Iran is in fact the dominating Shiite country in the world. Now, considering the asylum seekers it could first noted that as a percentage of the population they are quite few, only 0.2 % (Table 2). But even if they are few in that sense their distribution over time fluctuates considerably as shown in diagram 7. There is a great increase in 2015 and similarly in 2016. And then an equally considerable decrease in 2017. So it seems quite natural to ask for the reason for this pattern? Did there, for instance, happen anything particularly harmful in 2015 which triggered the expansion in that year? 


Diagram 7: Asylum seekers in the EU/EFTA from Iran




Well, no, and in fact rather the opposite. But in order give a more complete picture of all of this we have to go back in history. Thus, as we remember, the Iranian revolution occurred in 1979, a revolution in which the Shah was overthrown and the ayatollahs took power. Or, in other words, the former secular state became a Muslim state, in this case a Shiite one.


Then, in due course, this new Iranian regime started an atomic energy program including, among others, uranium enrichment with centrifuges. Many countries in the surrounding world interpreted this as the start of a program for producing atomic bombs, and the reaction was trade embargos against Iran and freezing of Iranian assets. There were several sanctions of this kind, some ones taken within the United Nations and other ones taken by individual nations, in particular the United States. All of this hit Iran with its great dependence on oil exports most severely.


And so we can turn to 2015. In that year the negotiations between Iran on the one hand, and the sanctioning states on the other, started by the US president Barack Obama, were most strikingly brought forward and almost concluded. The final deal came in January 2016. The sanctions were lifted and Iran agreed to stop important parts of its atomic energy activities. This, as foreseen by the Iranian population already in 2015, was utterly important for the Iranian economy and for the welfare of the people. Thus we have reached the conclusion that nothing harmful occurred in 2015 and 2016 but rather the opposite. In those years things became much better in Iran, not worse.


And this means that the reason for the sudden migration has to be something else than worsening conditions of some kind. About this I can only speculate but when doing so the similarity between migration curves of Iran, on the one hand, and those for Afghanistan and Iraq on the other, is striking. In all of these three curves there are sharp increases in 2015 and 2016. The one relevant for Iran seems to Afghanistan’s. Here one may guess about some kind of contamination or influence. I have not found any data about the way taken by the asylum seekers in EU/EFTA from Afghanistan, but it seems most likely that they have had to pass through Iran–Afghanistan is, we remember, a landlocked country. And if so many Iranians may just have been stimulated, or contaminated, to behave similarly, or they may have been offered migration possibilities by those, if any, arranging the migration from Afghanistan for gaining profits. All of this is compatible with the fact that many Iranians, in particular young ones, have long felt life in their own country unpleasant.


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