Iran’s induction in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Source: The post is based on the article “Iran’s induction in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation” published in The Hindu on 6th July 2023

What is the News?

Iran has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as its ninth member.

What is Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?

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How has SCO dealt with bilateral issues between countries?

India and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers in 2005 and became full members in 2017. Despite their strained bilateral relations, both countries have actively participated in SCO meetings, including military and anti-terrorism exercises together. 

The SCO has also facilitated discussions between India and China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border issue.

Why is Iran’s induction in SCO significant?

SCO’s original goals focused more on stability and security. But the recent focus has shifted towards connectivity in the region. 

In this context, Iran’s induction into SCO will help India build its connectivity strategy through Iran’s Chabahar port, where it operates a terminal and through the International North South Transport Corridor that goes through Iran and Central Asia to Russia. This will also help India circumvent land-based trade through Pakistan.

Additionally, Iran’s induction enables India to engage with the Central Asian region without getting entangled in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

Moreover, Iran’s historical ties with India and its shared concerns about terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan will enhance India’s call for action against terror safe havens.

What are the challenges for India after Iran’s induction into SCO?

Iran’s membership may deepen the perception of the SCO as an ‘anti-West’ forum. Both Iran and Russia face severe sanctions. The United States has also accused Iran of supplying weapons to Russia.

Further, the expected inclusion of Belarus next year in the SCO will further strengthen the image of SCO as an ‘anti-West’ forum.

Adding to these concerns. India’s growing ties with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) has made the Indian balancing act more difficult.

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