Shanghai Cooperation Organization – A Player in Eurasia?

Unnoticed in Europe, India and Pakistan were accepted as members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in July 2015. That these uneasy neighbors become SCO members is a landmark in this region’s security situation. It is also said that Iran would become a member of this organization once the UN Security Council sanctions are eased.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded 2001 in Shanghai by China, Russia, and the Central Asian nations (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) to cooperate on economics, politics and security (especially anti-terrorism). The SCO led by China and Russia is rapidly expanding. Iran, Mongolia, Belarus and Afghanistan have observer status; and Turkey, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Cambodia and Armenia are dialogue partners. In July 2015 the SCO Summit and the BRICS Summit were held in Russia simultaneously. The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) account for 27% of the world’s GDP and 42% of the world’s population.

The Saudi Arabian defense minister visited the 2015 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June 2015 and entered into an agreement about nuclear power, space, oil and investment. Saudi Arabia is reportedly thinking about buying Russian missiles and ships. Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Russia and met Putin on September 21, 2015. Only three days later the Turkish President Erdogan paid Putin a visit. Putin has supported both Syria’s Assad and Iran. Of concern to Israel is most likely Iran’s nuclearization as well as the situation in Syria, while the Turkish problems arise from the growing Kurdish power within and without its borders. Like Israel, Sunni Saudi Arabia has also been cautioned against Shite Iran. Both might be disappointed with Obama’s politics towards Syria and Iran. The situation in the Middle East has got out of control, thereby enabling the Islamic State (IS) to steadily grow which does not advantage any nation, not even Turkey in the long run. Putin and Obama are meeting at the end of September 2015 in America. They might agree on the direct Russian intervention in the Syrian crisis.

The Japanese Prime Minister Abe is also scheduled to meet Putin at almost the same time. Since Russia might have to deploy some of its military power to the Middle East, military deployment in North Asia might desirably be reduced. Although Russia and China have good relations currently, China’s expanding military power of late is definitely a considerable matter for Russia. Japan could have a chance to deal with Putin about the Kuril Islands.

Putin might agree to mediate between both Iran and Israel and Saudi Arabia and Iran. As for Turkey, Putin could also have some offers; otherwise, Erdogan would not have visited Putin on September 23, 2015. Erdogan also asked for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in August 2015 when he met Xi Jinping in Beijing. Terrorism by Uyghurs is the linking element here. Because the US forces will have withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, the SCO could take over this area to bring it under control. Possible instabilities might be one reason of India and Pakistan’s becoming members of the SCO.

Since the European nations have been busy and overtaxed with mass refugees, Putin dominates the Middle East, while China expands in the South China Sea. As a consequence, the SCO led by Russia and China is growing. The US seems to observe how Putin resolves the Syrian crisis and how the European nations manage the refugee issue.

How the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be expanded and manage rival member nations like Pakistan and India could have a great impact on the security and stability in the Middle East and Eurasia.

Related Posts: