The Russian Role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Dr. Ahmad Rashid Malik Professor. Department of International Relations, Preston University, Islamabad.
Russia is both western and eastern power. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) solely depends on Russian and Chinese wisdom. First they came up to dissolve their border disputes under the Shanghai Five that was created on 26 April 1996. Later they transformed the Shanghai Five into the Shanghai CooperationOrganization (SCO), which was evolved in Shanghai on 15 June 2001 amongst Russia and China and four CentralAsian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to counter terrorism, fundamentalism, separatism, to promote humanitarianism, to eradicate drug trafficking, and to promote economic cooperation among its members. The SCO is almost half of humanity and offers solutions to promote security. The SCO is the rise of Asian giants (Russia and China) and to defend a host of smaller States. The SCO is a significant to counterweight Western influences in the large Eurasian continent after Russia and China developed consensus. Russia has billed the SCO as a regional alternative to the American-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Over the years, the SCO has become a security bloc of Russia and China along with like-minded stakeholders. Both Russia and China use SCO as a vehicle to defend their interests against theWest. As largest countries, both Russia and China bind themselves in common goals to respond to Western influences and challenges they confront from time to time. Later, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia joined the SCOas Observers by 2005, while Belarus and Sri Lanka became Dialogue Partners by 2009. Afghanistan comes under the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group since 2005. Pakistan along with India and Iran want to become full Members. With Russian and Chinese support they are considered as the favorites for getting full membership of the SCO by 2014. Turkey is being proposed as a Dialogue Partner and will likely be approved at the 2012 Summit in Beijing. This ever-increasing strength of the SCO indicates its vitality in the region. Serious challenges are being faced by the organization. Whether the west would like or dislike, the Scorole would become much paramount after exiting of NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014. With out the cooperation of the SCO, it would be difficult for the remaining NATO and US armies to meet security challenges.
The organization aims at dealing with new crises emerging in the region. The SCO members might be in cooperation or against the decisions of the Chicago Summit (20-21May 2012) and other moots etc. This means that Russia along with China and other members of SCO are rising to full occasion to offer their wisdom to global and regional conflicts. Looking at history and past experiences, Russia has been carefully embarking on the ladder of SCO during the past decade and expanding its interests in Central Asia. The Russian Federation hosted the 2002, 2003, and 2009 Heads of State of SCO Summits that were held in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Yekaterinburg. The Federation also hosted the 2002 and 2005 Heads of Government Summits of SCO at Saint Petersburg and Moscow respectively. The visit of the Russian President vladimir Putin to Beijing in June (2012) would likely to harness emerging strategic understanding between the two countries, up set by the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMD) issue especially in the Asia-pacific region and the Middle East. The United States is bringing Japan, South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar into the BMD system. This worries the Russians and Chinese. Beijing shares the Russian concern over the BMD because China's defense system could be more vulnerable to the BMD system and its concern could be more serious than Russia itself. Under the banner of the SCO, both Russia and China could develop a common response against the BMD system. Together Russia and China could respond to the United States AND NATO. This also gives the indication that the NATO is not the only global security force in the postColdwar era. The SCO could fill the major global security gap. The future of the Eurasia region depends on Russia-china cooperation under the SCO forum because it is the only relevant regional security organization. Hardly three months of its existence, the organization was strongly hit by the military solution to the afghan conflict in September 2001. This gave a serious setback to the emerging RussianChinese partnership in Central Asia. It is anticipated that the exit of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014, would likely to give due impetus to the SCO because the organization was being formed as an alternative multilateral architecture to deal with the Eurasian challenges in the 21stcentury. The organization also gave the impression that the new world order is not a unilateral since its dismissal in the early 1990s. The SCO has been creating a new bipolar world order since 2001. The United States and NATO are on one side, and Russia and China are on the other side of the world map. Being a leader for ages, Russia fully understands Eurasian multilateralism. Hope Russia would help the SCO members to redress multiple issues and the Herculean challenges in the near future.