The SCO summit was conducted in Uzbekistan recently. During this summit, held from 15 to 16th September in Samarkand, Iran became the latest country to acquire membership of SCO.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization has 8 permanent members which are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India and Pakistan. Now with the inclusion of Iran in the SCO group, it will have 9 members. Iran will participate in the SCO summit as an official number for the first time when India will be hosting the SCO summit in 2023. All the members of SCO meet every year to discuss their issues related to politics, economics and security.
NATO vs SCO is the new reality -
NATO or North Atlantic Treaty Organization is said to be the most important grouping of western nations including Europeans and Americans. Shanghai cooperation organization becomes important in this regard as it is also a very important group to counter NATO. If the group of NATO strengthens the confidence of Western Nations and US, SCO grouping bolsters the faith of developing Nations especially Southeast Asian nations. BRICS is also an important grouping besides NATO but the countries involved in BRICS are from different continents so it makes it difficult for countries to collaborate and cooperate quickly. Countries which are members of SCO are easily connected by the land and air routes due to their geographical locations. This gives the feasibility of reaching each other easily.
Extending influence of SCO-
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was made on 15th June 2001 and it came into force on 19th September 2003. India and Pakistan became members of SCO in 2017.
SCO also grants observer status to some of the nations who aspire to participate or maybe become its permanent member in the future. However, the membership of SCO depends upon many different aspects and their mutual interests about a matter. Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia have been given the observer status for now. Along with it, some countries get involved as dialogue partners in the summit. SCO has 6 dialogue partners - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Cambodia. Special thing about the 2022 meeting was that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were also invited as the dialogue partners in the summit.
Currently SCO consists of 40% of the world's population with 20% of global GDP and also the 22% area of the world belongs to SCO member countries and this will only increase in future as more members are willing to join SCO in future.
Opportunity for Iran in SCO-
Does India support Iran?
India is in a tight spot in dealing with SCO countries and the US and the West at the same time. Inclining towards any block can cause trouble to India. India is currently maintaining the approach of "all alignment" in geopolitics.
Recently, the External Affairs Minister of India went to the US in late September and asked the Biden administration to allow the purchase of oil from Venezuela and Iran as the increasing prices of oil are 'breaking the back' of India.
The US has answered this by imposing punitive measures on an Indian firm Tibalaji Petrochem Pvt Ltd. The US has imposed sanctions and penalties on this firm. This is the first time that any Indian firm has received punitive measures from the US for buying oil from Iran. Previously, the US congress had approved India's purchase of S-400 from Russia and kept it out of CAATSA but now the scenario seems to be changed. So, India needs to be very careful in dealing with US and SCO countries at the same time.