Iran among Shanghai “Leader Group”

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which held its 8th Summit in the capital city of Tajikistan in the presence of IRI president and heads of a number of important regional powers is gradually becoming a determining player in the fields of international politics and economy.

To prove the power of the SCO it would suffice to recall that a large number of important countries in Central and South Asia are wailing in the queue to become a member of SCO. There is no superior power in the Subcontinent and in the former Soviet Union not to have come under the SCO flag. However, two key powers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, namely China and Russia have pinned their eyes – more than others - on Iran’s presence in this regional grouping as the superior representative of the Persian Gulf region. Although Tehran has maintained presence in SCO as a key observer state so far but in view of the sensitive security and political situation in the SCO region, now all the member states unanimously want IRI to assume a bigger role in administration of the SCO affairs.

In the course of IRI President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s participation in the former Shanghai meeting in Bishkek, the corner stone for the first round of summit talks on Iran’s official membership in SCO was laid. Now in the Dushanbe meeting, with the extensive efforts made by the host country, the last steps are expected to be taken to place Iran among the “leading countries” of SCO.

Behind Iran’s presence in the SCO, the Shanghai family would be seeking to expand the umbrella of its economic influence because with Tehran’s SCO membership the organization would practically possess 81% of oil and 73% of natural gas of the world. In the meantime, from the standpoint of leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao as the initiators of turning SCO into an effective player in security equations of Central, South and East Asia, Iran’s presence would turn this apparently economic organization into an unrivaled political force. For the same reason, during Ahmadinejad’s presence at the SCO summit in Bishkek, trilateral talks were held between China, Russia and Iran leaders to finalize the idea of turning SCO into a trans-economic organization. It was precisely after this decision that SCO began to quickly turn from a mere economic organization into an institution with security and political applications.

Ever since SCO inception seven years ago, the West, particularly the US, have been following its developments with concern, nevertheless, today they are more worried about a Moscow-Beijing-Tehran alliance. Until the 2007 Bishkek Summit, the main concern of the West was that China and Russia, as two main SCO pillars would spread their trade cooperation umbrella with the Central Asian republics and take the original markets of the region out of the control and domination of American and European companies. But this concern is now focused on security cooperation within the Shanghai organization so much so that American strategists are now regarding SCO as a growing rival of the North Atlantic Treat Organization (NATO). This idea is not far from reality because all the three key powers in the Dushanbe Summit, namely Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, are unanimous that the most important project threatening the life of this organization is expansion of NATO towards the East – a project which has assumed new dimensions with the outbreak of the war in Georgia. Because NATO has set its stations right at a land which is the heart of the territory covered by SCO.

Following the big fight between Russia on the one hand and the US and NATO on the other in the Caucasus, theories regarding possible confrontations between the SCO leaders and NATO are becoming a reality for the US rival factions. Today, in the analysis of the Caucasus dispute which covered the SCO borders as of August 7, there is not much difference between the views of Ahmadinejad and those of Jintao and Putin.

Both of the regions where the US and NATO are now stationed, namely Afghanistan and Georgia, are part of the main lands of the SCO. Therefore, this time in the capital of Tajikistan, Tehran, Beijing and Moscow would reach agreement on the point that the US and NATO intervention in the regional security is a common threat against all.

Under these conditions, there would remain no way for the founder and observer members of SCO but to formulate a deterrent policy or define new security arrangements for the region.


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