Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a collective security organisation formed in 2001 by China, Russia and four former Soviet Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) have welcomed Iran's decision to apply for full membership of the SCO. Over the past year Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia have been given observer status in the SCO. Iran's decision was immediately welcomed by the presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The June 4 Washington Times reported that the SCO "will consider admitting Iran as a member at a summit this month, accelerating its transformation into a political and military bloc with the potential to challenge US interests" in Central Asia. Peter Rodman, the US assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, told the Washington Times that Russia is "very tight" with the Chinese and the two nations have been "trying to push us out" of oil-and-gas rich Central Asia through the SCO. Last month, Chinese President Hu Jintao described Russia as China's most important strategic partner. "An expanded SCO would control a large part of the world's oil and gas reserves and nuclear arsenals. It would essentially be an OPEC with bombs", David Wall, a professor at the University of Cambridge's East Asia Institute, told the Washington Times.
From Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2006.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.