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The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) cannot be approached apart from the neo- conservative and neo- Eurasian aspiration regarding the geopolitical importance of Central Asia. The neo- Eurasians believe that the region is component part of the influence area of Moscow. According to their vision, the enemy is USA, which wants to prevent the formation of a new multi- polar order, where Russia might take a leading position. The neo- Eurasians are afraid of a possible “balkanization” of Eurasia. In order to support this thesis, they evoke the opinions of the American politician, of polish origins, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski, which suggests sometimes that: “Central Asia should become a permanent conflict zone, in order to stop the apparition of anti- American block in Eurasia”. The neoconservatives, consider that the Islamic fundamentalism, which is the enemy in the war “against terrorism”, can be avoided and removed only with the help of American military presence in the region, on a non- determined period of time. They distinguish 3 main states which are interested to fight against the occidental influence: Russia, China and Iran. The same as Beijing or Teheran, Moscow is considered an opponent of the ideals promoted by USA.

From Uyghur to terrorism

SCO is the result of an agreement, through which China tries to reduce the sympathy of the Asian states towards the Uyghurs from the Chinese province Xinjiang. Beijing argued that supporting the insurgents, is nobody’s interest, and offered commercial stimulants, which the central Asian states, with a poor economy, couldn’t ignore. In 1996, in Shanghai, 2 countries- The Popular Chinese Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan signed the “Treaty of growth among the military activities at the border region”, laying the bases of the “Shanghai group”. Uzbekistan got the membership only in 2001, when the objectives of the organization have been reformulated. Today, the SCO has 4 observers: India, Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia. After September 11th, 2001 “Shanghai group” transformed itself into an “international antiterrorist organization”. The main job was to fight against the “spread of the militant Islamism” in Central Asia.

“Opening” and “Stability”

It seems that the “noble” intentions of SCO have been suspiciously looked at since the beginning. This is why Russia always kept mentioning that the organization is “opened to the dialogue” and is an “element of regional stability”. Russia tried to convince USA for 8 years that the organization will not transform into a military alliance, something as NATO type. On the other hand is not a secret anymore that Russia is not so pleased with the expansion of NATO in the Baltic countries and east of Europe. The placement of the American anti- rocket shield is being perceived by Russia as a threat for the entire Asia. That is why Russia would be interested to transform SCO in a tool against the Alliance, which will stop the American influence in Central Asia. The militarization tendency of the organization is being confirmed by the growth of the investments in the army forces and also the growth of the military exercises that are being done.

The stake of the “game”

The stake that Russia and USA relied on is the control of the petroleum and gas production, as well as of the pipes which transfer these resources on the west market. The interest of USA for the Cossack as well as Caspian petroleum makes Moscow to supervise these resources through the implementation of some common projects concerning the extraction and transportation of the natural gas, together with Kazakhstan and the countries of Caucasus. Moscow tries to play an important role in the deliverance and transportation of the fuels and also to minimize the USA influence in the area. On the other hand, USA initiated partnerships with the regimes from Central Asia, a fact that allowed them to use the aerial bases in order to maintain the troupes on their territory.

Turkey and USA could be in a conspiracy?

On the background of this geopolitical game, where Russia manages to have the control over the post- soviet countries, USA is concerned to weaken the influence of its rival. According to the Russian experts, such a strategy has been already applied. It’s about the Agreement signed between Turkey and Armenia (the document that talks about the normalization of the relationships between these 2 countries as well as the borders’ opening), which according to the Russian experts, is a strategy of USA to weaken the Russian influence in the area. Opening the borders, will help the diminishing of the Armenia’s dependence on Russia and will allow USA to control the region through the Turkish- Armenian approach. The Russian analysts warn that “the participation of Armenia in the American plans could lead to similar events that happened in Georgia”.

The pan- Turkish strategy

The pan- Turkism is another strategy directed against the interests of Russia in Central Asia. Applying it would allow Turkey to become the connection hall between Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. If USA will support this strategy, then with the help of Azerbaijan will be “connected” the authentic Turks with the central- Asian and Siberian ones. Republic of Azerbaijan includes only 1/3 of the territory of the historical Azerbaijan. Almost 2/3 of the Azerbaijan territory is now in Iran. The idea of the Azerbaijani reunification, promoted by Turkey, is very popular now in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, do not dispose of an outlet to the world- wide ocean, being dependent on Russia. The Azerbaijani reunification would allow the direct access through pipes from the Caspian Sea’s wet dock towards the Turkish harbors from the Mediterranean Sea, but which is an impossible fact, because there is no functional Turkish- Azerbaijan border. Russia would lose the control over the hydrocarbons from the Caspian countries, and Turkey would gain a noticeable geo- economic and strategic position. More than that, changing the Iranian- Azerbaijani border, will make Iran to be no more an important factor in the Caucasian geopolitics. So, Iran being conscious about the pan- Turkish danger supports everyone who tries to ruin the materialization of these plans. The more Turkey- the military ally of USA, will penetrate the former Russian territories, the more hostile will Russia support the countries of pan- Turkism. The respective circumstances justify the high interest of Iran towards SCO, but also the importance that the organization (especially Russia) pays to the USA “enemy”.

Development possibilities of SCO

At the moment, SCO doesn’t have an imposing presence in Central Asia. Moscow and Beijing, want an expansion of the organization instead, so that they could control the political and economic evolution of the area. SCO has big chances to consolidate its positions in the close future. A positive indicator of that is the growth of the states that joined the organization as observers: Mongolia (2004), Iran (2005), Pakistan (2005) and India (2005), which already opted for the full membership status of the SCO. The most insistent is Iran, and its adherence will prove the occidental officials that the organization intends to become a blocking tool of the American influence in Asia. Moreover, Iran is pretty tempting for SCO, as they can hold huge energetic and human resources together, and occupy 60% of the Eurasian surface. As from the demographic potential point of view, they represent a fourth of the world population. The energetic resources of SCO cannot be denied either. Russia and Iran dispose at present of 17.6% of the world fuel resources. With the 3% of Kazakhstan and 9.5% of Africa, controlled by China in the biggest part, the organization possesses 30% of the world fuel resources. More than that, Russia holds 27% of the gas stocks, Iran- 15%, and the ex- soviet republics from Central Asia- 8%.

Russia or USA?

No doubt that Russia tries to confront USA, in spite of the assurance that it is being concerned only about the fight against terrorism. Its imposing app among the SCO, as well as the way in which it imposes itself in Central Asia, confirm this fact. Possibly, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan want a bigger opening towards west, but they are too dependent on Russia to allow them this “luxury”.  Moreover, they are the ones who will have the most to lose because of the fight between Occident and Orient. If Russia manages to keep dominating, then USA definitely will try to use different excuses in order to destabilize the political situation in the region. On the other hand, the trial to diminish the Russian influence in Central Asia could “be paid back” with interethnic conflicts, intentionally provoked and forged (Russia has enough levers for such scenarios). Evidently, in such circumstances, SCO has all the chances to consolidate its positions in the area. More than that, the organization will be justified to impose itself openly in front of the international community as an anti- American block in Eurasia.

Translated by Cristina Flocea

2009-12-24 21:01:18


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