Iran’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation may have implications for its regional and trans-regional rivals. Iranian president’s address signaled the country’s motivations for turning into eighth member of SCO.
As Tehran received a full membership of the prominent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Iranian new President stated that his country wanted deeper relationship with its regional neighbors.
Ebrahim Raisi also called for solidarity against the US unilateral conduct on independent nations. During the organization’s annual meeting in Dushanbe, Iran received confirmation as the organization’s new member. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation included seven other members including China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.
For the previous one and a half decade, Iran has been observer of SCO. Tehran’s new position as full member will aid it in the growth of local economy and international stature. In his address at the meeting, Raisi primarily focused on his foreign policy agenda during his election campaigns. Expanding political, financial, and social relationships with the regional nations while also protecting Iran from unilateral Western sanctions were on the top of his plans.
Iran’s strategic and demographic stance along with its energy supply, transportation capabilities, labor, and culture can facilitate and accelerate big regional masterplans, according to Iranian president. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is among their main trans-regional plans Iran has expressed willingness to take part in.
“The world has entered a new era. Hegemony and unilateralism are failing. The international balance is moving toward multilateralism and redistribution of power to the benefit of independent countries,” Ebrahim Raisi said in the summit.
Raisi characterized the unilateral US sanctions against independent countries as “economic terrorism”. He found it a key roadblock to regional growth. He urged SCO leaders to create institutions and procedures to combat sanctions collectively, as they “are not against only one country.”
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
The original “Shanghai Five” arrangement arose from a series of talks between China and its neighboring Soviet states including Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, the primary aim of 1996 arrangement was to discuss border concerns. Five years later, Uzbekistan decided to join the group forming the SCO.
The expansion of the bloc’s scope was accompanied by policy agenda expansion and the group worked on more issues. Economy, culture, and security were of the main spheres of cooperation to fight against extremism and terrorism in the region .
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was founded in 2001 as a meeting place for Russia, China, and Central Asian ex-Soviet nations. The group was expanded four years ago receiving India and Pakistan as new members. The aim of expansion is to perform a stronger role to counterbalance the Western dominance in the Eastern bloc.
In 2002, Iran signaled its will to join the structure, finally submitting an application for observer role two years later. The proposal was accepted at SCO meeting in Astana in July 2005, with Iran joining India and Pakistan in the position. In 2008, Iran proposed full membership, but China and two other countries were hesitant to take the decision at the moment.
After UN lifted sanctions in 2015 as part of JCPOA, there was a lot of talk about Iran membership. Despite this, the delay lasted for years owing to a variety of causes. It was only after imposition of new round of sanctions five years later that Iran’s proposal received final confirmations.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a staunchly anti-Western organization. Some even go further to dub it an “anti-NATO” arrangement by the Eastern bloc. The Iranian membership may reinforce the Anti-western air considering its former ties with Russia and China.