Iran’s permanent membership at the SCO is still discussed and analyzed by analysts with different mindsets.
One of the most important questions before the observers of the regional economic developments is, what is the tangible and sustainable benefit of the SCO for Iran?
Another question is, can the SCO be Iran’s assistant in economic, regional and international affairs?
In this respect, keeping in mind that two major world economic powers, that is to say China and India are members of the SCO, can economic convergence be pursued at that organization? Particularly more so, since today a world power like China is seriously at loggerheads with the United States both politically and economically.
To find answers to those questions IRNA has talked with Dr. Nozar Shafiee, a professor of international relations, and the former spokesman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, asking him about Iran’s gains from permanent membership at the SCO.
IRNA: Which event and background led to Iran’s permanent membership at the SCO after the elapse of 15 years?
In this respect there are a number of reasons, the most important one is the very passage of time. Fifteen years of membership as an observer member and requesting for changing it into permanent membership included the message in it that Iran’s being interested in having activities at the SCO was serious. In fact, when powers like China and Russia observed the incentive in Iran to play an active and positive role, and therefore unintentionally agreed with changing Iran’s membership status into permanent.
The second issue, which is also related to the same time elapse matter was that if the SCO had delayed Iran’s permanent membership request more than that and shown more resistance, then inside the Iranian political scene the question would ask that what is the necessity of joining the SCO, and why not move towards the western countries? That was a situation that two major powers at the SCO, namely China and Russia do not favor, and wish to have Iran by their side.
The third point is that some pretexts on whose credibility Iran’s permanent membership at the SCO was not acceptable are not weakened. For instance, the SCO used to resort to the sanctions pretext in the past. Today, with UN Resolution 2231 on the one hand, and the positive signs received from Vienna and return to the negotiation table, this mentality and viewpoint took shape among the heads of big and influential heads of powers within the SCO that the unilaterally imposed sanction by the US were on verge of collapse.
Meanwhile, it should be kept in mind that the rights and commitments in an organization are time taking issue. Iran became an official SCO member today, but it takes a two to three-year time in the legal process and internal commitments of the organization. Therefore, the scenario and option on the table is that Iran’s sanctions issue will be resolved within that period.
IRNA: How effective has the relations of the eastern powers with Washington been on this issue?
The other issue is the tension in China and Russia relations with America. The United States has put China under pressure in the west side of the Pacific Ocean with the agreement it has reached with Australia and Britain. In the eastern side of Russia, too, the same event is taking place in another shape. NATO’s eastward expansion and taking Ukraine into that alliance is a serious issue that has strongly worried Russia. Those issues have made China and Russia try to find new allied countries. In this respect Iran with its geographical and political status has high traction for the Russian and Chinese politicians.
IRNA: How much useful do you think Iran’s presence at the SCO will be in expansion of economic interactions, such as completion and finalizing of the Peace Pipeline, which is supposed to transfer Iran’s gas to India through Pakistan?
The practical usage of the organizations and the philosophy of their existence throughout history has been turning the threats into opportunities.