The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, September 16 and 17 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Iran PressAsia: It seems that one of the important agendas of this meeting is to examine the agreement of the member states to start the process of reviewing Iran's membership in this important regional organization as a permanent member.

At the invitation of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Chairman of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi scheduled to head a political and economic delegation to attend the summit and pay an official visit to the neighboring country on Thursday.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry said in an official statement on Tuesday that the Iranian and Tajik presidents would have a special meeting during the three-day visit to the country, which is in fact the first foreign visit of Ebrahim Raisi as Iranian President and with the participation of the official delegations of the two countries, they would discuss and consult on a wide range of issues.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides are expected to sign a joint statement on bilateral relations and a package of new cooperation documents, the Tajik Foreign Ministry added.

According to the plan, the President of Iran will probably meet and consult with some of the participating presidents on the sidelines of the summit.

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The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in 2001 by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to balance multilateral security, economic and cultural cooperation aiming at balancing US and NATO influence in the region.

Mongolia joined the organization in 2004 and a year later Iran, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan in 2005 and Belarus as an observer member joined the SCO.

India and Pakistan also became permanent members of the organization in 2017. Thus, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization currently has eight permanent members, namely India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and four countries Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia as observer members and six countries Azerbaijan. Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka are also its negotiating partners.

The SCO member states are the world's largest producers and consumers of energy, with an area of ​​about a quarter of the earth's land surface and about half of the world's population, with strong potential to balance power in a multipolar world.

Reviewing the latest developments in Afghanistan as an observer member of this organization seems to be one of the most important agendas of this summit, although Afghanistan has no representative in this summit and it is unlikely that the Taliban have been invited to participate in this summit.

What distinguishes this round of the summit for Iran from other rounds is the beginning of the study of Iran's permanent membership in this organization.

According to the published news, 8 permanent member countries are expected to comment on Iran's membership in this organization and start the process of Iran's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization if all members agree with this presence; a process that may take several years, such as the application of India and Pakistan to join the organization in 2014, and it took about three years for the two countries to become permanent members of the SCO.

Therefore, it should be noted that the admission process in this organization is not a one-step process and a special procedure has been foreseen in the SCO documents in this regard. In fact, a positive vote of all members means the beginning of the negotiation process for an agreement on the documents according to which Iran will join the legal and contractual framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

During its consultations, Iran seems to have been able to obtain the consent of member states, especially the influential countries in this regional organization, as the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran has recently announced that the political obstacles to Iran's membership in the SCO have been removed and Iran's membership will be finalized through technical formalities.

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All is prepared for Iran to join Shanghai CO: Shamkhani

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, tweeted last month after talks with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev: "Political obstacles to Iran's membership in the Shanghai Agreement have been removed and Iran's membership will be finalized through technical formalities."

Russia's ambassador to Iran, Levan Dzhagaryan, recently told RIA Novosti that Moscow supports Iran's application for membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization because the positions of Iran and Russia are close and on some regional and international issues.  

Bkhtyvr Khakimov, special representative of the President of Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, also has said Moscow expects that the leaders of the organization decide on beginning the process of accepting Tehran at the organization's summit in Dushanbe (Tajikistan).

The government of Tajikistan, which has been chairing the SCO since 2020, seems to have a positive view of Iran's membership, unlike in 2017.

Nizamuddin Zahedi, the ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan, said in Tehran in June: "The President of Tajikistan is one of the first presidents of the member states to propose Iran's main membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2012, 2013, and 2014, but the acceptance of these cases and decisions in the organization is done with the coordination of other countries and with the consent of all member states."

The official noted: "The principle of admission in the Shanghai Organization is general consent. Therefore, this issue is present in the programs of the organization, i.e. Iran joining as a main member, and if other member states of the organization are ready to accept Iran, Tajikistan will support the general consent in this issue."

On the other hand, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirajuddin Mehraldin recently told a news conference in the capital, Dushanbe, that Tajikistan would support Iran's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"Tajikistan is ready to support Iran's decision to join the organization with the agreement of the member states," Mehraddin said.

Cooperation between Iran and the SCO

Iran's presence as a permanent member in this organization, considering the activities and extensive cooperation of its members in the political, security, economic, trade, monetary-banking, energy, and cultural fields, will definitely provide a more suitable space for Iran's international interactions given the determination of the Raisi administration in looking the East, and Iran, due to its rich energy resources and oil and gas, will naturally be an important powerhouse in the SCO, and the increase in this cooperation will be useful for all parties as some refer to it as a win-win partnership.

Obstacles ahead

As mentioned, the agreement of the main members of this organization to start considering Iran's permanent membership in this regional organization in line with the Raisi administration's special view of the East can be a diplomatic success.

But there are obstacles to exploiting this success which in this regard the US economic terrorism and US sanctions against Iran, the refusal of some member states to have extensive economic ties with Iran for fear of US sanctions, Iran's non-accession to the FATF, and blacklisting in this the mechanism are among the serious obstacles facing Iran is in the field of monetary and banking exchanges.

In this context, some experts believe that in the domestic arena, along with measures such as the Vienna talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the lifting of sanctions, smart decisions should be made to lift the sanctions to accelerate the process of Iran's membership in the organization and Iran can better use this opportunity for its own economic and political interests.


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