Iran’s entry into SCO provides new impetus to the regional cooperation and collaboration
Editor's Note: The writer is a freelance columnist on international affairs based in Karachi, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) 2023 summit showcased a momentous milestone with the introduction of Iran as the ninth full member of this alliance. This occasion marks the second phase of expansion for SCO, following the inclusion of India and Pakistan in 2017. China, who fervently advocated for the integration of neighboring countries, led this move. In demonstrating its commitment to regional unity and cooperation, China's proactive stance has fostered enhanced dialogue and joint efforts in addressing shared challenges. Iran's inclusion reaffirms SCO's status as an inclusive organization with an expanding scope and capacity to accommodate diverse perspectives.
This new chapter in SCO’s history positions it to bolster regional peace, stability, and prosperity. Iran's full membership comes at a critical time of a global power shift, signaling the waning dominance of the West and the rise of Asian superpowers. Iran's membership in this alliance strengthens its standing in this evolving world order. Its inclusion as an influential Middle Eastern player affirms its role in regional dynamics.
After the historic détente with Saudi Arabia – through Beijing’s mediation - Iran's presence within this influential body not only provides the country with a platform to express its interests and concerns, but it will also enrich the organization by adding a unique perspective and regional expertise. As a result, the collective strength of the organization will grow, paving the way for enhanced collaboration, innovation, and meaningful progress in tackling the multifaceted challenges of our time.
Iran has demonstrated support for ongoing mega-projects such as the North-South Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative, firmly prioritizing their advancement. In particular, the Chabahar port and Chabahar-Sarakhs crossings willl play a critical role in connecting the landlocked nations of Central Asia to the Sea of Oman and the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. Iran remains resolute in its commitment to completing this vital transit route.
At the same time, with the collaborative efforts of Iranian experts and the joint cooperation between Iran and Russia, the North-South Corridor rail route has entered the crucial phase of implementation. This project not only underscores Iran's intent to enhance regional connectivity but also amplifies China's vision of synergistic economic and infrastructural links across continents. Furthermore, Iran's commitment to these projects showcases its desire to engage in constructive partnerships and contribute to global development.
Throughout the years, the Shanghai Spirit has emerged as a unifying force, guiding our collective journey towards a brighter future. It is through the concerted endeavors of member states that SCO has thrived, and this united front will persist in transcending challenges, transforming them into unprecedented opportunities for progress. By upholding the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO member states are playing a proactive role in shaping the landscape of international and regional affairs, fostering peace, security, development, and prosperity.
The Shanghai Spirit has emerged as a unifying force, guiding collective efforts towards a brighter future. SCO, as the world's largest regional organization, comprises 25.8 percent of landmass, 41 percent of the global population, and 30.29 percent of the world's GDP. This grouping includes nine full member states, three observer states, and 14 dialogue partners, with Belarus expected to join by 2024. Its expansion underscores its relevance, and its engagement with observer states and dialogue partners highlights its commitment to inclusivity and regional collaboration. Remarkably, countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have expressed a keen desire to join its ranks.
SCO's resilience stands as a testament to its ability to transcend political, historical, and cultural differences, including territorial disputes and ideological divergences. Underlying its significance is the potential for enhanced political, economic, and security cooperation that transcends borders, fostering a climate of stability and progress across the vast Eurasian expanse. Furthermore, SCO's engagement with observer states and dialogue partners highlights its commitment to inclusivity and broad-based regional collaboration.
As SCO continues to expand and evolve, it remains committed to embracing new members and strengthening existing partnerships. The inclusion of Iran as full member reflects the organization's expanding reach and growing importance.