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Positive Regionalism within Shanghai: Iran an Angle of Power Quadrangle in Asia

Sunday, August 31, 2008

After the outbreak of the cold war in Georgia and the mutinies in the former Soviet republics over the past several years, Russia is becoming more skeptical of the US presence in the region. With Iran and India joining China and Russia under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization it can help formation of a quadrangle in Asia.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded under the name of “Shanghai 5” in 1996 with an aim to demilitarize the border between China and the Soviet Union. After Shanghai 5 admitted Uzbekistan as a new member in 2001, it was renamed Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Mongolia became an observer member of SCO in 2004 followed by Iran, Pakistan and India a year later. Ever since, the role of SCO which comprises 1/3 of the world population, has been enhancing in the region and it has taken up such important issues as fight against terrorism and narcotic drugs in its meetings.

It is to be noted that SCO whose members have been increasing in the region, unlike the North Atlantic Treat Organization (NATO) and former Warsaw Treaty, is not regarded a multilateral defense treaty yet.

Interestingly the formation of SCO has greatly helped improve relations between China and Russia. And clearly, Washington would regard Moscow-Beijing friendship a threat. In the meantime, following the presence of the US troops in Asia and stationing of its bases in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, China and Russia are worried about this US military buildup.

The United States too had submitted a request for observer status in SCO in 2005, which was rejected by the organization. Meantime, after the outbreak of the war in Georgia and the rebellions over the past few years in such countries as Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, Russia looks at the US presence in the region with more skepticism.

Russian experts maintain that the outbreak of color revolutions in certain republics of the region as well as the war in Georgia are type of investments made by the United States.

It is also to be noted that after the 9/11 attacks, the Karshi air base in southern Uzbekistan was put at the disposal of American troops and thus Tashkent was turned into a strategic partner of the US and cooperated with American military in anti-terrorist maneuvers in return for security guarantees and military hardware it received from America. However, the mutinies of 2005 and criticisms voiced by the Uzbeks against Washington over US interventions in revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, reduced this cooperation and led to gradual withdrawal of American forces from Uzbekistan.

The main goals of the SCO are strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighborly relations among the member countries; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields; making joint efforts to fight terrorism and drug trafficking and to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, to move towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.

It is important to note that Iran’s presence at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a positive and important step for Tehran due to its important geo-strategic interests. In the meantime, Iran’s permanent membership in SCO in addition to further strengthening the organization can also turn it into a powerful bastion against US threats. Also, Iran and India can complete the quadrangle of power in Asia alongside China and Russia.

Source: http://www.mehrnews.com/fa

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