Growing the SCO

by Nathan Hamm on 5/18/2006 · 1 comment

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, it should come as no surprise, wants Iran to be accepted as a full member of the SCO.

A deputy speaker of the Russian parliament Wednesday proposed that Iran be granted full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

“Iran wants to become a permanent member [of the regional security organization] and we must assist it to enhance the SCO and protect Iran,” said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who also heads the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

Enhance the SCO? I was unaware that political liabilities were an asset. And protect Iran? I was also unaware that the SCO was an organization with a collective security agreement like NATO’s.

Anyhow, Iran and Pakistan have both been invited to attend this year’s SCO summit, but according to RIA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ruled out putting Iran’s membership on the agenda. (Though I can see the possibility for ambiguity in the statement and it instead meaning that the Iranian nuclear program won’t be on the agenda.)

RIA political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev explains why Iran will not be admitted.

The reason is not so much the lack of understanding – and documents – of what new members will bring the SCO. Is it necessary to review, for instance, their agreements and treaties with other nations?

The problem is that there is too much politics and too many words and general declarations around the SCO. New members mean new declarations. According to available information, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will attend the forthcoming summit in Shanghai, was asked to speak not so much of America and Israel as of Iran’s role as the region’s economic partner.

Economy is the key, the essence of existence. In short, the SCO envisages security guarantees plus economic and social development of Central Asia. That’s all.

And judging from the quotations from foreign ministers in the article, it does not seem as if the members are interested in much more than economic cooperation and perhaps mild security cooperation.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Andy May 24, 2006 at 4:51 am

If any region needs an international organisation/talking shop right now, it’s Central Asia.

Let Iran in, I say. The more the merrier. Bring in India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Afghanistan.

Have I missed anyone?

But seriously – the more countries in a Central Asian organisation, whatever it’s nature (free trade association, collective security alliance, random talking shop) the better communication links will be in what is rapidly becoming one of the more tense regions of the world.

Plus, widening the membership dilutes the influence of both Russia and China – and that can’t be a bad thing.

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