Kommersant has learned that during the upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tajikistan, the beginning of the procedure for admitting Iran to its membership will be announced. The event will also be attended by the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, for whom this will be the first foreign trip. Earlier, Iran’s entry into the SCO was hampered by international sanctions, and then by the objections of one of the organization’s members.
The SCO summit scheduled for September 16-17 will be a jubilee for the organization: it was created 20 years ago. It all started in 2001 with six states – the “Shanghai Five” formed in 1996 (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan) and Uzbekistan, which joined it. Today, the SCO has eight countries: in 2017, India and Pakistan became members of this regional organization dealing with security, economy and humanitarian cooperation. And, as it became known to Kommersant, soon there will be nine members of the association. At the upcoming summit in Dushanbe, the heads of state, according to Kommersant sources, should announce the beginning of admission to their ranks of Iran.
The very process of Tehran’s accession to the SCO may take some more time. It took Delhi and Islamabad almost two years. But the very fact that it will be officially launched is already a breakthrough, since Iran has spent more than ten years in the organization’s “dressing room”.
Tehran received observer status at the SCO back in 2005, after which in 2008 it applied for full membership. But until 2015, Iran could not be admitted to the union because of the international sanctions in force against it. According to the rules of the SCO, a country that is under the sanctions of the UN Security Council cannot become its member, and a number of restrictive measures were in force against Iran. The sanctions were lifted in 2015 when Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program. But even this did not open the doors for him to the SCO.
Unexpectedly, the Iranian application was blocked by Tajikistan, which previously had almost the warmest relations with Iran among all the SCO countries. Dushanbe accused Tehran of supporting the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT, banned in Tajikistan) and indirect involvement in organizing terrorist acts. However, the experts interviewed by Kommersant did not previously rule out that the quarrel was due to financial and geopolitical factors (see Kommersant of September 20, 2017).
However, some time ago, the conflict was resolved. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will personally fly to Dushanbe (amwaj.media was the first to report this). Moreover, this will be the first foreign trip for him since his election to the post in June this year.
Russia is unequivocally in favor of admitting Iran to the SCO, hoping that this will give the organization even more weight in the international arena.
The SCO member countries regularly come out with joint statements, the initiator of which is often Moscow. During a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO member states held in Dushanbe in July, Russia insisted that “it is long overdue to positively consider Iran’s application for membership in the organization.”
“The SCO is a platform for discussing regional problems. Iran is also a state of the region for which it is important to discuss these problems and seek solutions together. Just like other countries in the region – to sit at the same table with Iran and not call him a guest from outside, ”Adlan Margoev, an analyst at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies, explained to Kommersant. on an equal footing the problem of security in and around Afghanistan. Tehran’s full membership in the organization will emphasize that Iran is an important participant in the discussion on regional security, and the SCO is the main platform for this discussion. Reputationally and organizationally, everyone will benefit from the expansion. ” In addition to Iran, the SCO has three more observer countries: Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia. In addition, the organization has six dialogue partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Another 12 countries apply for observer or partner status – Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Maldives, Ukraine, Iraq, Vietnam, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar.
“The SCO is a structure that should naturally unite around itself all the states interested in interaction. Therefore, we take the issue of enlargement extremely seriously, – said earlier the special envoy of the Russian president for SCO affairs, ambassador-at-large Bakhtiyor Khakimov, and added: – There is a general disposition for this, there is no doubt about it.