The analysis by Michael Robin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that we are facing a storm of huge flows of refugees from Iran.
“Not by accident”
The author describes, first of all, “non-accidental” the waves of refugees facing Europe. He believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin, like his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, is deliberately harming civilians by forcing them to flee, putting pressure on Europe to make concessions.
According to the United Nations, the war in Ukraine has already displaced more than three million people, and this number does not seem to include those who have fled east, to Armenia and Central Asia, where the cost of living is very high. cheaper.
However, despite the waves of refugees already sweeping Europe, the continent could face a tsunami of asylum seekers involving more than ten million refugees from Iran, which could face a major internal storm following the death of Khamenei's spiritual leader. and the struggle for succession and its “legacy.” .
But he may not keep this “distinction” for long. Syria has a population of 17.5 million. Venezuela has 28.4 million and Ukraine 44.1 million. The population of Iran, however, is almost double that of Ukraine, and instability is on the horizon.
Regime change does not come to Iran from the outside world but simply because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is old and mortal. While speculation is rife that Khamenei staged Ibrahim Raisi's rise to the presidency in order to pave the way for his succession, the smooth transfer of power is by no means certain.
Khamenei does not have the religious rites nor the charisma of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's predecessor and his speech will have no meaning after his death.
Succession is further complicated by the fact that the position has become quite lucrative. Khamenei is corrupt. During his 33-year tenure, he amassed billions of dollars through the business interests he controls.
Rising to the leadership of Iran means not only possessing enormous power that transcends all the constraints of democracy (the supreme leader is above and beyond all elected positions in Iran) but also enormous wealth.
Given how infrequent transitions occur – Khamenei's death will mark the second transition in more than forty-three years – there is no incentive to wait patiently. Rather, any figure with ambition will make its move and join the destabilizing groups.
Battle for Succession
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ( IRGC) will also take part in the battle for succession. In 1989, various Iranian centers of power compromised with Khamenei precisely because he was weak. Khamenei compensated for the lack of a political base by establishing a symbiotic relationship with the IRGC:
He would resist any significant restriction on his power and support him as he consolidated control of his political opponents. The IRGC, which has also amassed hundreds of billions of dollars because of Khamenei's rule, will not be willing to return to the barracks, nor will it risk a political struggle with a new supreme leader. Instead, it will try to prevent anyone who does not control it from gaining leadership.
The fight can be brutal. Whenever there was a leadership vacuum in Iran, military forces concentrated in the capital, allowing “nervous” tribes and political groups on the periphery to fill the gap.
Neighboring countries rarely resist engaging in conflict. This was the context of the Azerbaijan crisis in 1946, the first real Cold War crisis, as the Soviet Union sought to take advantage of Iran's weakness in the years following the occupation of the country and the ousting of the Shah in 1941.
< p>“When Khamenei dies, it is reasonable to expect that not only Russia but also the Kurds of Iraq, the Turks, the Saudis, the Israelis and the Pakistanis will support all groups of proxies in the region of Iran, if not in Tehran.”/p>
It will destroy civilians
Any civil war will hit civilians, but as Revolutionary Guards or other hardline factions seek to consolidate control, they may choose to target civilians.
Think of Iraq immediately after the US invasion: The militias surrounding the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr actively targeted the educated and middle classes across the sect for the simple reason that such people would never support Sadr.
Western diplomats are mourning the brain drain, but for some political constituencies that do not want to compete politically and spiritually, such an escape is a positive development.
Iran's growing protest movement shows that many Iranians, if not most, are hoping for an end to the Islamic Republic. It would be in the best interest of hardline supporters of Khomeini's failed experiment to oust these Iranians from the country, as they are no longer able to convince them that the Islamic Republic is nothing more than a cynical dictatorship in the guise of a cleric. >
Iran's emerging economic problems could also contribute to a perfect storm. Neither sanctions nor Covid-19 fully explain his financial woes.
According to the country's Central Bank, the net capital stock has fallen sharply and was in negative territory before US President Donald Trump withdrew from the joint plan to control Iran's nuclear program in 2018, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo implemented a campaign of “maximum pressure” against the economy of the Islamic Republic.
Facing economic collapse
This indicates a fundamental weakness of the economy, which the influx of many billions of dollars could not be reversed. Quite simply, Khamenei's management of the Iranian economy has stuck it. Iran is facing an economic collapse.
The internal turmoil could cause a tsunami of refugees, numbering more than ten million. Few would choose to go east to Afghanistan and, as with Syrian refugees, the Arab world would be reluctant to accept them.
This means a large influx of refugees to the north, to the Caucasus, and then west, via Turkey, to Europe. European leaders may think they have reached capacity limits after successive waves of Syrian and now Ukrainian refugees, but a much larger wave can be seen on the horizon.