Much has been said, and justifiably so, about the role the poor Iranian economy plays in the current Iranian election crisis. Much less attention has been played to the role the global economic recession has already played in the rage sweeping the country and the role it is bound to play in its aftermath. Emad Gad, an Egyptian expert in international affairs, suggests that “Ahmadinejad will concentrate in the economic field to improve living conditions for his population after this crisis.”
The partial recovery of oil prices indubitably aids the Mullahs. But current investor caution coupled with already ongoing foreign and domestic capital flight is bound to limit the regime ability to revive the economy and the rising global unemployment may just reduce the ability of the regime to export its troublesome youth in the manner it has been doing during the global boom years. Jobs are much more difficult to come by in the West.
Over and over again the mantra is repeated. Iran is a young country. Most of its inhabitants are under 30 years old. Less repeated is the question Mousavi asks in reference to Ahmadinejad’s mismanagement of the economy: “Why do all our young want to leave this country?”
The answer is self evident to all Iranians. Their country is unable to provide jobs for its young people. Azadeh Kian, professor of sociology at the University of Paris VII, reports that youth unemployment is estimated to be between 30% and 50% and no “jobs are being created for the 800,00 young people who enter the Iranian job market every year”.
Wikipedia has a special entry for Iran’s brain drain. It begins thus:
According to the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the highest rate of “brain drain” among 61 developing and less developed countries it measured.  More than 150,000 Iranians leave the Islamic Republic every year, and an estimated 25% of all Iranians with post-secondary education now live abroad in “developed” countries of the OECD. Causes of the drain are attributed by some to a “tight domestic job market” and “strict social codes” imposed by the Islamic government.
An Iranian American businessman who returned from Iran a few days ago expects more of the same. “Getting out of the country is easy, and so educated people are fleeing in droves, mostly migrating to Canada and Australia,” Mohammed Ahmadieh says. Over a million are in the US already.
Of course, a West mired in recession and suffering from an increasingly higher and higher unemployment cannot be as welcoming as it has been to job seeking young Iranians. Nor can graduate schools easily absorb them during a time that even Harvard is cutting the number of its graduates students.
What will the partial closing of the long serving emigration safety valve mean to the regime? It can mean continued unrest, ultimately, leading to the collapse of the regime. It can also mean war. Let us not forget that for millennium, the sure proof way of getting rid of troublesome youth has been getting them killed on the battlefront.
Recent Iranian naval maneuverings in the Persian Gulf are troubling as is the decision of the conservative candidate and former Revolutionary Guard commander, Mohsen Rezai, to withdraw his challenge to the election results in part due to “security” concerns. In other words, even if the regime succeeds in reducing significantly the current uprising. Stability is not going to come back to Iran any time soon because the global economic downturn is sure to increase rather than diminish the temperature within the Iranian cauldron.