Iran’s Defense Minister has suggested that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) increases its role as a maritime organization, with the goal of projecting its power against the West.
Iran recently joined the SCO, which serves as one of several organizations that China and Russia seek to use to create a multi-polar world as part of a new world order designed to supplant the US. They also work through BRICS and CICA to do this.
The SCO is an organization that works on economic and defense issues and it is considered the world’s largest regional organization in terms of both geography and population. China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan; as well as India and Pakistan are all members, and most recently, in 2022, Iran agreed to join the organization as well.
Last year, an article at CYIS noted that “Maritime security cooperation is a viable area of activity between the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Within the SCO, Iran, Pakistan, India, China, and Russia are coastal states, while Southeast Asia is at the junction of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.”
This important article noted that “the combined maritime space of these organizations comprises the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. This shared maritime space presents several non-traditional security challenges to both organizations, such as piracy, terrorism at sea, illegal migration, illegal fishing, smuggling, and man-made or natural disasters to name a few.
“Thus, the SCO and ASEAN are well-positioned to collaborate to address these shared security challenges as a larger Greater Eurasian Security Community. “
Pushing for increased maritime security
However, so far the SCO does not have a maritime security mechanism. Now the pro-Iran, pro-Syria Al-Mayadeen news channel has said that Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani is pushing for more muscular defense initiatives by SCO. This move is part of Iran’s new tactics in Oman, and also in Beirut, which was recently visited by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Shanghai has become an influential organization in global developments and equations, whose expansion and strengthening can be an effective measure in promoting and advancing multilateralism in the international arena,” Ashtiani said. “We can deal with common security challenges and threats in the region and the world.”
Now the Iranians want to use the SCO to increase defense and military cooperation, and they want India to play a part in this as well. But India is close to the West and is a strategic partner of Israel.
India also works with the I2U2 group and the Quad, a group that encompasses Australia, India, Japan and the US. But Iran has a different mission, and a defense minister that says that the world is no longer run by the West and it is no longer “unipolar” and dominated by the US.
He wants the SCO to promote global pluralism and balance of powerr, and hopes to influence the creation of a Shanghai Maritime Security Belt, noting that a large part of global trade is linked to the SCO. According to Ashtiani, “It’s time for global multilateralism and balance of power.”