Why Is Iran So Keen on Joining the SCO?Posted: September 9, 2021
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SEPTEMBER 8, 2021 THEDIPLOMAT.COM
What Happened: Iran became an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – originally comprised of China, Russia, and 4 Central Asian republics – back in 2005. In the 16 years since, Tehran has consistently pushed for an upgrade to full membership, particularly after the SCO underwent its first expansion, adding India and Pakistan, in 2017. Now, with new political leadership in Tehran, and China and Russia both expanding their partnerships with Iran, the chances of full membership look better than ever.
Our Focus: “Iran has always tried to use its ties with China and Russia as leverage against the Western capitals, receiving diplomatic support, an economic lifeline, and defense equipment from Moscow and Beijing. Tehran’s strategy worked to some extent and, for example, helped it survive crippling sanctions,” writes Fardin Eftekhari is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Regional Studies at the University of Tehran, for The Diplomat. “Still, Iran managed to not deviate sharply from its basic slogan in the foreign policy area, ‘neither East nor West.’ However, it seems that the Islamic Republic is changing course by replacing symbolic acts with concrete policies.”
What Comes Next: Closer ties between Iran and both China and Russia are built on Tehran’s waning interest in diplomatic engagement with the West. But, as Eftekhari notes, it’s questionable whether SCO membership will actually have any concrete impact on Iran’s diplomacy. However much Tehran touts a “turn to the East,” its focus will very much remain on its rivals in the Middle East – states that China, in particular, is not keen to antagonize. Still, if Iran does get its long-awaited promotion to full member, it would be another sign of a deepening China-Iran-Russia axis.
Source: The Diplomat “Why Is Iran So Keen on Joining the SCO?”
Note: This is The Diplomat’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.