While the West’s corporate media were fixated on NATO adding tiny Montenegro to its membership roster, the Chinese- and Russian-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) added India and Pakistan as full members. The flags of India and Pakistan were raised at SCO headquarters in Beijing, following the June 8–9 SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
SCO is viewed as a counter-weight to NATO in Asia that is designed to prevent the Western military alliance gobbling up as members former Soviet Central Asian states as members. Western designs on the central Eurasian land mass becomes much more difficult now that the world’s most populous democracy, India, and Pakistan, the world’s third most populous Muslim nation, are now fully integrated into the security, political, and economic alliance that eschews American influence in a region that extends from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea in Europe to Hainan Island in Southeast Asia. India and Pakistan join, in addition to Russia and China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in SCO.
India and Pakistan, while not agreeing on much else, decided to put their differences aside and recognize that aligning with China and Russia in SCO is preferable to being led into dubious alliances with the United States. For China, the Indians and Pakistanis in SCO is a major boost to its Silk Road initiative, also known as the “One Belt, One Road” project, of creating new highway, rail, and maritime links with countries around the world.
Fears that India and Pakistan would disrupt SCO with their mutual political differences were put to rest when SCO emphasized that its charter strictly prohibits members using the organization to advance any bilateral problems. The same rule applies to the bilateral tensions between India and China. However, as American influence in the world fades, India finds it advantageous to cast its lot with China and Russia rather than with an increasingly anemic United States.
China drove home the importance it gives the Silk Road project when it announced that it was establishing full diplomatic relations with Panama after the Central American nation and controller of the Panama Canal cut its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
China’s state-owned China Communications Construction, China Railway Group and COSCO Shipping Company are involved in major infrastructure improvement projects in the Panama Canal and surrounding region. Chinese billionaire Wang Jing’s company, the Hong Kong-Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company, broke ground in 2015 for a $40 billion sea-level canal through Nicaragua.
Chinese control of two canals in Central America will give it enormous economic clout internationally, as well as in America’s backyard.
On deck to join SCO are Afghanistan, where the Trump administration has just announced an increase of 4,000 troops in what is America’s longest war. There will soon come a time when SCO, after Afghanistan transitions to full member from observer, will order the U.S. and NATO to pull its occupation troops from the SCO member state. Will Washington risk a war with the four most populous nations in Eurasia to keep its military planted in a SCO member state? That is doubtful, especially as the United States is fast becoming a second-rate political power that happens to have a globally-deployable military force.
The United States has also tried to co-opt Mongolia, situated between Russia and China, as a prime listening post for the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. That effort will be marginalized after Mongolia also becomes a full member of SCO. And making things difficult for Washington and its alliance of Arab potentates in the Persian Gulf is the fact that the next Asian nation that is expected to become a member of SCO is applicant Iran. While Iran was under United Nations sanctions, it was prohibited from becoming a full SCO member. However, after the sanctions were lifted in 2016, China announced that Iran was on track to become the next full member after India and Pakistan.
The addition of Iran, as well as Belarus and the other aspirant nations as SCO members will make the organization a powerhouse that can stand toe-to-toe against not only the United States and NATO, but the European Union and Japan.
Waiting to step into the SCO observer category are “dialogue” partners Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Armenia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Interest in SCO has also come from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Maldives. There is no stomach by either Russia or China for Saudi Arabia to join. After the Saudi-led economic blockade of Qatar, it is very possible that Qatar may make a play for SCO observer or dialogue status. SCO has not been keen on taking action on submitted dialogue partner applications from Ukraine and Israel.
Unlike NATO, SCO is careful not to grow too big too fast. India and Pakistan waited for 12 years to become full members of SCO. However, the stage has been set for SCO to grab its first NATO nation, Turkey, as a member at some time in the near future. Such a development may see Turkey become the first NATO member state to exit the military pact.
All the U.S. intelligence-influenced news media can do is harp about how the SCO and the other organization that brings Russia, China, and India together, the BRICS alliance, are dying blocs unworthy of attention. This, of course, is “fake news” frothing from the same administration that complains about being subjected to false news stories. The only thing that has battered the BRICS alliance is the CIA-initiated “constitutional coup” that deposed Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. However, the CIA’s chosen successor, Michel Temer, is about to be deposed himself in an impeachment and removal brought about by his and his cronies’ blatant corruption. Once Brazil reestablishes a progressive government, BRICS will come back as a counter-weight to the U.S.-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).