On Friday, September 17, at a gathering in Dushanbe, China, member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization voted to approve Iran’s membership in the organization.

The SCO, established by China and Russia in 2001, is an economic, political and security alliance. It currently includes eight states – China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Together, these states account for 20% of global GDP, and include 40% of the world’s population.
Iran’s first, unsuccessful bid for full membership in the SCO took place in 2008. At that time, Tehran’s application foundered because of the objection by a number of member states to full membership for a country subject to US and UN sanctions due to its nuclear program.

Tehran applied again last year. Its efforts failed again because of opposition from Tajikistan. This week, the barriers were removed to full membership, though no date for Iran’s accession has yet been set.

How significant is Iran’s admittance to the SCO?
Iranian media, quoted in an article by Agence France-Presse, were jubilant concerning this development. Kayhan, a publication associated with hardline positions, wrote that ‘“from now on Iran can implement its policy of multilateralism, progressively abandon a vision based solely on the West and mitigate Western sanctions.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his address to the SCO, was similarly blunt in his appraisal of the meaning of this development.
“The world has entered a new era. Hegemony and unilateralism have failed,” Raisi told SCO leaders. “The international balance from now on leans towards multilateralism and the redistribution of powers towards independent countries. Unilateral sanctions don’t uniquely target one country. It has become evident that, in recent years, they affect more the independent countries, especially SCO members.” READ MORE
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