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Iran’s Regime Exploits Afghan Migrants amidst Its Own Crises

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In recent days, there have been diverse reactions from Iranians at home and abroad regarding a new influx of Afghan migrants, ranging from support to hostility. In this context, the governing authorities in Iran seem inclined to take advantage of the misery that has hit these Afghan migrants hard.

Iranians are well aware that, due to the unstable situation and unfortunate conflicts in Afghanistan over the past few decades, many Afghan citizens have been compelled to leave their homeland and seek refuge in other countries, including Iran.

Within Iranian social culture, people have observed that Afghan immigrants are generally honorable people, both hardworking and undemanding. They have predominantly engaged in difficult occupations like construction, often receiving minimal wages and almost zero benefits.

Furthermore, it’s widely acknowledged that Afghan immigrants have assimilated themselves into Iranian society, adapting to its customs, norms, and societal expectations.

While isolated instances of regulatory violations or irregularities by Afghan citizens in Iran may occur, these exceptions don’t negate the overall peaceful coexistence and positive interactions Iranians have had with Afghan citizens and immigrants.

However, as in every other domain, the clerical dictatorship appears to be exploiting the issue of Afghan immigrants for its own selfish interests and gains.

In recent days, state-affiliated media outlets, including those linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps like the Fars news agency, have launched an online campaign regarding the threats posed by migrants. They reported the entrance of “10,000 to 15,000 Afghan migrants daily” into Iran, equating to approximately 3.5 to 5 million annually.

However, the Fars News Agency claimed that there are 8 million Afghan migrants in Iran, which would mean approximately 10% of Iran’s population, or one Afghan migrant for every ten Iranians!

Nevertheless, the accuracy and validity of these statistics should be questioned, especially considering the particular agenda being promoted by a faction within the ruling establishment.

This issue has stirred reactions and responses from some media outlets across the spectrum, such as the state-run Shargh newspaper, which recently stated that claims about the entry of this number of Afghan migrants into Iran are not true.

In the eyes of many analysts familiar with Iranian affairs, the current situation appears to reveal a troubling agenda by the clerical regime. This agenda involves diverting attention away from the internal challenges it faces, particularly the decline in its associated military and paramilitary forces due to uprisings and protests in recent years.

Regrettably, the regime seems poised to exploit the vulnerable Afghan community who have sought refuge in Iran for over four decades. They often try to recruit young Afghans in their terrorist forces, by promising good income and “compensation for their families” in case they die on the battlefield. Many have been deployed in certain quasi-military groups like the Fatemiyoun, which the regime has previously used in proxy wars in countries like Syria and Iraq. Similarly, these groups may be leveraged to suppress protests within Iran and potentially utilized as tools in disputes against the Taliban.

Furthermore, the regime, feeling the pressure from the international community, employs the presence of Afghan migrants as a means of influence. They threaten Western countries and the United Nations with the expulsion and dispersal of thousands of migrants to European and Western nations, highlighting the complexities and humanitarian challenges in play.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, some videos have been released from Afghan migrant detention camps, where the regime has been accused of using the “expel and detain” policy regarding Afghan migrants.

In any case, there should be no doubt that sensationalizing the issue of Afghan migrants in these circumstances, whether rooted in certain political or demographic realities or not, is a secondary matter and a smokescreen for the clerical dictatorship to divert people from the uprising and revolt.

In the face of a profound existential crisis, a dictator clinging to power seeks distractions. Even if the Afghan migrant issue consumes public attention for a short period, it’s seen as a win for the deteriorating Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The regime, grappling with its own internal challenges, exploits any opportunity to divert focus and maintain a façade of control.