Showing posts with label IGOs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IGOs. Show all posts

Thursday, September 15, 2022

What is the Shanghai Organization and what are its goals?

    Thursday, September 15, 2022   No comments

Two major events are happening this week: a summit meeting bringing the leaders of the nation-states that are members (or possibly future members) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); and the signing of the final document making Iran full member of this intergovernmental organization (IGO). Iran will add about 90 million people to this bloc of countries, bringing the percentage of the world population represented in this IGO to more than half the world's population.

The activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit began in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, with the participation of leaders of member states, led by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the Chinese and Russian presidents will meet bilaterally at a regional summit, which looks like a front against the West, at the height of severe tension exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

In Samarkand - a key stop on the ancient Silk Road - Xi and Putin will be joined by leaders of India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and other countries for the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which is the first in-person summit of the SCO leaders since 2019.

Russia’s leader, Putin, has played a major role in this organization; the reasons are explained in this in-depth analysis.

This review note explains both events, starting with an overview of the organization.


What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a Eurasian international organization, founded in the form of a political, economic and military alliance, in the Chinese city of Shanghai, on June 15, 2001, by 6 countries initially, namely: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, with the exception of Uzbekistan, were members of the "Shanghai Five-Year Group" established on April 26, 1996 in Shanghai.

 

Subsequently, India and Pakistan joined the organization as full members, on June 9, 2017, at the Astana Summit. During the organization's summit held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on September 17, 2021, the members agreed to change Iran's status in the organization from an observer member to a full member.

 

The organization also includes non-member observer countries, including: Belarus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Cambodia, Armenia and Sri Lanka. It comes after the member states of the "dialogue partnership", including Turkey, which became a member since 2012, and recently Egypt and Qatar joined as well. There are many countries interested in establishing relations with the organization, such as: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Iraq and Syria, All of them seek to join the "dialogue partnership".

 

The vast area that includes the member states of the Shanghai Organization extends from north to south; From the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, from east to west; From Lianyungang in China to Kaliningrad in the Russian Federation, in addition to Iran, the 5 countries with nuclear capabilities will be united into one regional organization.

 

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization make up nearly half of the world's population and nearly 5/3 of the Eurasian land mass, making it the world's largest regional political alliance. The Shanghai Organization in the West is often called the "Eastern Alliance".

 

Shanghai and enhance mutual trust policies


During the Saint Petersburg Summit in 2002, the organization signed its charter, which explains its objectives, principles, structures and modes of action, for recognition in international law. In September 2003, the charter of the organization entered into force.

 

According to the charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, summits of the Council of Heads of State are held annually in designated places, alternately, in alphabetical order of the name of the member state in Russian. The Charter also stipulates that the members of the Council of Heads of Government (ie, Prime Ministers) meet annually at a place decided by the members of the Council.

 

The objectives of the organization revolve around promoting policies of mutual trust and good-neighbourliness among member states, combating terrorism and strengthening security, combating crime and drug trafficking, and confronting separatist movements and religious or ethnic extremism.

 

Shanghai .. and regional security

Since its establishment in 2001, the organization has mainly focused its efforts on issues of regional security and combating terrorism, national separatist movements and religious extremism. Regional development has also become among its priorities.

 

The organization intends to further develop its permanent body, the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS). Between 2011 and 2015, under the coordination of the Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure, the authorities in the member states of the organization were able to prevent 20 terrorist attacks from taking place. It was still in the planning stages, avoiding 650 crimes of a terrorist and extremist nature, removing 440 terrorist training camps and neutralizing 1,700 member organizations of the international terrorist, according to the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Rashid Alimov.

 

The organization arrested more than 2,700 members of proscribed armed groups and their associates, and persons suspected of criminal activities, while 213 persons linked to terrorist or extremist organizations were handed over, with many of them sentenced to long prison terms. 180 suspects were placed on wanted lists, 600 secret bases equipped with weapons were discovered, and more than 3,250 indiscriminate explosive devices were confiscated, in addition to 10,000 weapons, about 450,000 pieces of ammunition, and more than 52 tons of explosives, according to Alimov.

 

The organization has enjoyed observer status in the United Nations General Assembly since 2005. In April 2010, the secretariats of the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization signed a joint declaration on cooperation.

 

The Organization's General Secretariat has also established partnerships with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Tourism Organization and the International Organization for Migration, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism .

 

In the context of special anti-drug operations conducted within the territories of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization over many years, the organization seized about 69 tons of lethal heroin from traffickers, and this figure constitutes about 14% of the drugs seized worldwide.

 

The UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, as well as the UN Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, maintain regular contacts with Shanghai Cooperation Organization officials.

 

Military and counter-terrorism activities

The peoples of this organization constitute about half of humanity, which makes it a huge fundamental entity that cannot be underestimated politically, economically or militarily in the global system, and over the past few years the activities of the organization have expanded to include increasing military cooperation, exchanging intelligence information and combating terrorism.

 

The organization says that it "conducts military exercises regularly among members to enhance cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability."

 

There have been a number of SCO joint military exercises. The first was held in 2003, with the first phase taking place in Kazakhstan and the second in China. Since then, China and Russia have cooperated in large-scale war games in 2005, 2007 and 2009, sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

 

More than 4,000 soldiers participated in the 2007 joint military exercise, known as the "Peace Mission", which took place in Chelyabinsk, Russia, near the Ural Mountains. After the successful completion of these war games, Russian officials started talking about India joining such exercises in the future.

 

The organization conducted maneuvers under the name "Peace Mission 2021", with the participation of Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, in addition to Belarus, which participated for the first time in these maneuvers aimed at "fighting terrorism", which lasted for 4 days.

 

Some Western observers described the organization as the "NATO of the East", and classified it as an emerging military bloc to be wary of, and as the largest anti-American bloc in the region.

 

Regional Economic Development

The organization sought to help develop regional economies, create favorable conditions for trade and support investment initiatives from Eastern Europe to the Russian east coast and China, as well as build an integrated road transport system.

 

The size of the economies of the member states of the organization, in the year 2020, amounted to about 18.4 trillion dollars, while the intra-OIC trade jumped to 6.2 trillion dollars during the same period.

 

Since the establishment of the organization nearly 21 years ago, China has proposed a long-term goal of establishing a free trade area among member states, in addition to taking other immediate measures to improve the flow of goods in the region.

 

The organization established its own Business Council, on June 14, 2006, with the aim of expanding economic cooperation among member states, establishing direct relationships between financial communities, and facilitating the practical promotion of multilateral economic projects.

 

In the same year, the organization also established what is known as the “Confederation of Interbank Banks” (SCO IBC) with the aim of providing financing and banking services for investment projects sponsored by the governments of the member states of the organization, as the SCO IBC meets in particular based on the consensus of all parties once At least every year.

 

Priority areas of cooperation within the SCO include: providing financing for projects focused on infrastructure, basic industries, high-tech industries, export-oriented sectors and social enterprises, issuing and providing loans based on generally accepted international banking practices, and organizing pre-export financing to stimulate trade and economic cooperation between Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states, and other areas of common interest.

 

The countries of this organization are seeking to integrate among themselves at the economic level, in order to break the US-imposed embargo, especially Iran, Russia and China, to attract Asian investments and supply energy products.

 

The Shanghai Organization, in all its countries, has great potential on the geopolitical level, in the field of oil, gas, electric power, and many others. Any new country obtaining membership in the organization will lead to the economic integration that the organization aims to, and this matter will certainly strengthen the position of the East vis-à-vis the Western countries that adopt a unipolar policy.

 

Iran is a full member of the "Shanghai Organization" .. Timing and economic importance


Meeting with Iran’s president, Putin reminded the Iranian leader of Russia’s role in the process and stated that now Russia will take its relations with Iran to the next level:

“Russia has done everything for Iran to become a full-fledged member  of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Russian delegation with representatives of 80 large Russian companies will travel to Iran next week.”

Iran's acceptance as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at this time is not without connotations, as it coincides with changes inside and outside Iran. Changes appear in its favor, especially in terms of getting it out of the US economic embargo, which officially began with its signing of the strategic partnership agreement with China.

In another expansionary step with great significance at various levels, the organization announced at its meeting today, through the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping, its agreement to grant Iran full membership in it, after it had been an observer member in it for years. The Chinese president said, “Iran will be considered a full member.” in the Shanghai Organization at today's meeting."

Significance of membership timing

The granting of Iran full membership in the Shanghai Organization at this time seems remarkable, as it was followed by:

 

1- The China-Iran strategic agreement, which was signed in Tehran on March 27, after a regional tour by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that included the Gulf states and Turkey.

 

The "Strategic Partnership Document", as it was called, is a 25-year agreement between the two countries, covering the political, economic, military and industrial fields.

 

This agreement serves both countries, as it guarantees the global economic giant a further growth in its role and consolidation of its presence on the international scene, especially in the countries that the United States has placed on the list of “forbidden areas” imposed by its harsh economic sanctions.

 

It also guarantees Iran an open outlet through which it is liberated from these sanctions, disposes of its oil production that America does not buy, and prevents other countries from buying it by imposing sanctions on them, in an attempt to put economic pressure on Iran to change its political positions, and Iran imports In return for its exported oil, it needs industrial equipment, machinery and expertise, and it is preparing its ports and infrastructure with Chinese assistance, allowing the latter to use these facilities to export its products through land and sea towards the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, then to the European continents in the north and Africa in the south.

 

2- The complete and urgent US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country that has been occupied by the United States and its NATO allies for 20 years, located within the borders of the Eurasian region, and implanted between the two major countries in the world, China and Russia, as the United States sought to prevent their convergence and impede their growth economy, especially China, by cutting off its land and sea exports to the West, and threatening its security by igniting wars and security disturbances.

 

Here, it is worth noting that it is not a coincidence or a detail that the organization was formed only about 4 months before the anniversary of the American invasion of Afghanistan, and against the drums of this war that the United States and Britain had waged after the September 11 attacks that toppled the World Trade Center in New York. It also targeted the US Department of Defense (Pentagon).

 

The American role obstructing the work of the Shanghai Organization and the growth of China’s economic standing was demonstrated by the hastening of the leaders of the “Taliban” movement, which quickly and gradually seized all the Afghan regions in conjunction with the departure of the occupying forces, to visit China and meet officials in its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their emphasis on the pivotal Chinese role in Reconstruct the country exhausted by occupation and conflicts, and reassure them that they will not use Afghan lands to target the security of other countries.

 

3- The election of a new president of Iran last June, the head of the judiciary and the strongman, Ibrahim Raisi, by a large margin of votes over his closest remaining rival, after the withdrawal of the most famous names nominated in his favor, as former chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

 

Since the beginning of his term, Raisi has sought to enhance his country's presence and position in the world, by strengthening its relations at the regional level, and benefiting from all its capabilities, foremost of which is its geographical location. He reached Eurasia through a corridor linking the north with the south.

 

Before heading to Tajikistan, Raisi said that his country's participation in the summit "will focus on our economic and cultural relations with Asian countries," and stressed that "cooperation with neighboring countries and the region is a top priority for Iran's foreign policy."

 

Last August, Raisi declared that strengthening Iran's relations with Russia and China, the two main members of the organization, was a priority of his foreign policy.

 

Opening economic fields to Iran and liberating it from the American blockade

Among the three previous points, the strategic agreement between Iran and China, which represents the most prominent pillar of the organization, is the most important thing that contributed to Iran's accession to it, so that it appears that what happened is nothing but an expansion of the official international recognition of Iran's regional role and presence, and a greater contribution to its removal. Under the American economic blockade, and in opening the fields to it by both China and Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin stated during his speech at the summit, that his country “supports the decision submitted for approval by the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization regarding the start of procedures for Iran’s admission to the organization , stressing the mutual importance of its accession by saying that this would "increase the international authority of the organization."

 

In the first Iranian comment, the spokesman for the Presidency of the Iranian Parliament, Nizamuddin Mousavi, considered, in an interview with ISNA, that what we are witnessing is "the establishment of a new world order where the Quartet of Power in the East (Russia, China, India, Iran) is considered one of the most important international players in this new world order," he added, adding that "Iran's accession to this organization, despite Washington's opposition, proves that the era of unilateral policies is over and we are witnessing the establishment of a new world order."

 

In economic terms, Mousavi said that his country's accession "means reaching a market of 3 billion people, and this is a great opportunity that we must have a roadmap to exploit in the best way."

 

This accession was preceded by the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries, rounds of which were conducted in the Austrian capital Vienna in the last months of the term of former President Hassan Rouhani, with talk of preparing for other rounds after the formation of the first Iranian government under President Ibrahim Raisi. Without neglecting the positive visit of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, to Tehran, and his meeting with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.

 

All of the foregoing contributes to comforting Iran with the beginning of the era of President Ibrahim Raisi, and makes it approach an international position that it seeks to reach despite the obstacles of its enemies to this, which will also put it in front of major challenges in order to hold on to these gains and take advantage of the new opportunities available.

 

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This weekly events review included research notes and analysis from Reda Zeidan.



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