Rise of the East: Russia seeks to expand role of SCO to counter influence of NATO

Monday, November 7, 2011
By Paul Martin

The Extinction Protocol
November 7, 2011

RUSSIA – Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani arrived in Moscow on Sunday in a bid to seek full membership of the important regional security grouping of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The prime minister is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who are attending the summit along with other heads of governments and representatives of member and observer states. Pakistan holds the observer status, along with Mongolia, India and Iran, whereas Sri Lanka and Belarus have been granted the status of dialogue partners and Afghanistan is a special guest. Ambassador to Russia Khalid Khattak said Pakistan carried regional significance at the SCO forum in the context of security and geographical location that linked South Asia with the energy-rich Central Asia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao will meet on Monday to discuss expanding their loose Central Asian security alliance to include Pakistan and Iran. Mr. Putin will host Mr. Wen in this city almost exactly 10 years after the two countries joined forces with the four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics to form the SCO. Russia has previously billed the alliance as a regional alternative to NATO and discussed at past meetings the option of including other regional powers in its ranks. “We are talking about Pakistan and Iran, which have applied for membership,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters ahead of the talks. “India is also intent on joining, and Afghanistan has said it wants to be an observer,” he said. But analysts said China preferred to view the group as primarily an economic organization and noted that Pakistan’s membership had already been under discussion for five years. –Dawn.com

Book Quote: Former Iranian Republican Guard, Moshen Rezai’s nebulous reference in 2009 about a confederation of friends and allies protecting Iranian interest in the region may be a veiled reference to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The SCO is a virtual political Eastern counter-balancing force to the Western military alliance of NATO…expanded, the power of a SCO military alliance would be unrivaled and any conventional military clash with one of its elite member-nations could spiral into a nuclear confrontation to compensate, if nothing else, for the sheer disproportionate number of military weapons currently under the NATO umbrella.” –The Extinction Protocol, page 78

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