Iran Joins the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The shift in the geopolitical gravity towards Eurasia continues to move at a rapid pace with Iran being admitted as a full member to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on September 17, 2021.

Prior to the 21st summit of the SCO in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Iran was an observer member of the SCO. 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping addressed the summit virtually and announced Iran’s acceptance to the SCO. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Iran’s acceptance as a full member of the SCO.

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At the SCO summit on September 17, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared, “Strengthening bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of economy, is an important factor in improving the strategic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the global economy.”

Tehran Times reported that Raisi was also emphasizing multilateralism and more neighborly policies during his speech:

In another part of his speech, Raisi noted that his government’s foreign policy orientation will focus on “economic multilateralism” and strengthening “neighborhood policy” in its broadest sense, and strengthening its presence in regional organizations.

Raisi called attention to the fact that the geopolitical landscape has changed significantly. He declared:

Hegemony and unilateralism are declining. The international system is changing towards the polarization and redistribution of power in favor of independent states.

Raisi argued that Iran serves as the connecting link between South and North Eurasia via the North-South Corridor, which links Central Asia and Russia to India.

Raisi added, “The responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan lies entirely with the United States and its allies during this period.”

The Iranian leader urged nations in the region to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. 

“Accordingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to devote all its efforts to the establishment of an inclusive, comprehensive and independent government in Afghanistan, and rush to their aid like all these difficult years that we have been with our Afghan brothers and sisters,” Raisi remarked.

The geopolitical game is changing. The failed sanction policies and regime change efforts levied against Iran over the years have awakened it to the reality that its future lies in Eurasia not the West. Through its incorporation into the SCO, Iran can now fall back on the defense and economic architecture of Eurasian great powers like China and Russia to secure itself. By being under this security blanket, Iran will be less motivated to pursue nuclear weapons — a move that would otherwise spark outrage in the US and Israel, while also making China and Russia uncomfortable.

The emergence of the SCO shows that the unipolar moment is over, which, in reality, has been dead for some time. Unilateralism and western hegemony are no longer the order of the day. American and European foreign policymakers must come to grips with the newly unfolding dynamics of international relations lest they want to face embarrassing military and economic reversals in the near future.

All in all, the liberty conservative foreign policy outlook is one of restraint and non-intervention. The US should only assert its interests in the Western Hemisphere i.e. keep external actors out and not interfere in areas that are not traditionally within its historical sphere of influence.

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