Iran's membership in SCO promises close political and economic cooperation in a wide geography 

September 19, 2021 - 21:25

TEHRAN - Among the regional organizations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has attracted Iran's attention since its formation in 2001. It centered on two major world powers, China and Russia. Now, Iran's membership in the organization is a harbinger of expanding economic-political cooperation in the region.

Two political and economic factors are involved in analyzing the membership. 

Tensions and the continuation of the U.S. sanctions system have always acted as a deterrent to the development of Iran's foreign trade, depriving Iran from the benefits of international markets or attracting foreign investment for infrastructure projects, including transportation, communications. Sanctions have mostly affected tourism and oil and gas sectors. 

Aware of this issue, the Islamic Republic of Iran has chosen the strategy of “looking to the East” in order to expand regional cooperation and confront the sanctions system.

Today, the volume of economy and trade and, most importantly, China's technical and technological knowledge has persuaded not only Iran but also a large number of countries to establish close trade and economic relations with this great Asian country. 

In this context, the Chinese interest in Iran’s 80-million-population market and investing in various Iranian industries have created a kind of common strategic interest for closer cooperation between the two Asian countries, IRNA said in commentary on Saturday.

According to the 25-year Iran-China partnership, the Chinese have agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran’s infrastructure projects and this shows the economic importance of Iran to China, which is now the second largest economy in the world. 

Membership in the SCO will promote regional and international position of Iran in an effective way.

Basically, Iran is an important partner in China’s "One Road One Belt" project. China's interest in Chabahar port which can help advance the large-scale project reflects the fact that Iran has a special place in Beijing’s economic and political outlook. 

Today, with Iran's official membership in the SCO, which is centered on two major Eastern powers, China and Russia, can bring great economic and trade opportunities for the country. 

It seems that Iran's membership in the organization will pave the way for the development of economic cooperation, especially the implementation of the 25-year Iran-China agreement. 

It should not be overlooked that the United States has not given up on intensifying tensions with China with the aim of containing China’s rise even during the Biden era. It has been clearly announced that the recent military pact between the U.S., UK and Australia is aimed at China. The pact, dubbed AUKUS, will see the U.S. and UK give Australia the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.

Today, U.S. officials see China as a key rival in challenging their power in the Asia-Pacific region and are using various means to contain China. But the reality is that today China, as an economic superpower, seeks to strengthen regional cooperation to protect and perpetuate its status. 

Therefore, the enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Iran's membership can be analyzed in such a context. In addition, with the membership of Iran, the Chinese are somehow trying to deepen their economic and political cooperation in West Asia. 

On the other hand, the membership of Iran in this organization promotes the regional and international position of the Islamic Republic in an effective and desirable way.

However, in today's global arrangements, countries play an active role in the form of regional organizations. The SCO is the largest Eurasian political, economic and security alliance. 

Another opportunity for Iran in joining the SCO is to increase the country’s position internationally. Today, two of the nine main members of the organization (China and Russia) have veto power in the UN Security Council. 

Of course, the membership of India as a large and emerging economic power, which is usually a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the leading regional and global powers, is also very important.

The need to strengthen, develop transport infrastructure in region

Iran has a coastline of 2040 km with the high seas in the south, and if Shanghai members use Iran's infrastructure to increase cooperation capacity, there are common interests for all members, especially China and Central Asian countries that do not have access to the high seas.

In other words, Iran, with its special geographical location, can serve as a North-South and East-West bridge in the SCO. Achieving this goal requires the expansion of transport cooperation, especially in transportation infrastructure. 

At present, the railway line to Herat has progressed and certainly the development of this line needs the support of the great powers of the organization. 

It should be noted that the SCO with its current capacity accounts for 42% of the world's population and a quarter of the world's GDP. This, together with the energy capacity and reserves of oil and gas resources, is all an ideal opportunity to strengthen economic convergence and mutual development for all members of the organization. 

In the new era countries have no choice but to expand regional interactions for economic development, and it is hoped that with the official membership of the country in the Shanghai organization, a serious and operational step will be taken to increase economic relations and expand investment in various infrastructural and industrial dimensions.
Some important benefits of Iran's membership in SCO are:

* Improving Iran's security 
- SCO members are committed to hold joint military maneuvers. 

* Increasing the possibility of foreign investment
- In international bodies, Russia and China will be committed to support Iran and will not be obliged to comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran. 

* Important effect on Iran-Eurasia relations

* Iran's position in the international equation will be strengthened and this will help reduce U.S. sanctions against Iran.

* Iran has been an observer member of the organization since 2005 and by joining it as a permanent member, we can hope that the level of our country's foreign trade with the members of the organization will increase and will be able to face the restrictions imposed by Europeans and the United States on Iran's economy. 

However, it should not be forgotten that Iran's extensive engagement at various political levels with countries around the world should be on the agenda as a strategy. 

* Members of the Shanghai organization have about one-third of the land surface.

*While China and Russia, two of the five permanent members of the Security Council, are key pillars of the treaty, it is enough for any observer to understand why the SCO is more important than a regional security organization.

* Geographically, Iran is located in a region that can connect the North to the South, and the West to the East. Over the years, many countries have tried to somehow replace Iran with other countries, but Iran is still the most important corridor in West Asia.

* In the field of energy, according to available statistics, Iran has the combined largest oil and gas reserves in the world, which is mostly needed by China and India as two important members of the pact.

* By becoming a permanent member of the organization, Iran will be connected to the vast markets of the member states. 

As an observer member of the Eurasian Union, and its presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can complement the process of making Iran use the economic potential of the countries in this region, which together accommodate 65% of the world's population, as well as the world's resources.

* It is also important for the SCO to have a close relationship with a power like Iran, which has very rich resources for economic cooperation and is considered a bridge between East and West Asia as well as the North to the South.

Due to its vast energy resource (oil and gas), Iran will naturally be an important powerhouse in the organization; more cooperation will strengthen Iran's role in the new Silk Road to benefit of all parties.




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