A tectonic geopolitical shift happened in Astana, Kazakhstan, only a few days ago, and yet barely a ripple registered in Atlanticist circles.
At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, alongside Russia, China and four Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
June 9, 2017. President Vladimir Putin poses for photographs with the participants of the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). From left: President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of China Xi Jinping, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. From right: President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
So now the SCO not only qualifies as the largest political organization – by area and population – in the world; it also unites four nuclear powers. The G-7 is irrelevant, as the latest summit in Taormina made it clear. The real action now, apart from the G-20, also lays in this alternative G-8.
Permanently derided in the West for a decade and a half as a mere talk shop, the SCO, slowly but surely, keeps advancing a set up that Chinese President Xi Jinping qualifies, in a subdued manner, as “a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.”
That’s the least one can say when you have China, India and Pakistan in the same group.
The SCO’s trademark, under the radar game is quite subtle. The initial emphasis, as we were entering the post-9/11 world, was to fight what the Chinese qualify as “the three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism. Beijing – and Moscow – from the beginning were thinking about the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their Central Asian connections, especially via the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Now the SCO is actively warning about the security “deterioration” in Afghanistan and calling for all members to support the “peace and reconciliation” process. That’s code for the SCO from now on directly engaged in finding an “all-Asian” Afghan solution – with both India and Pakistan on board – that should transcend the failed Pentagon “remedy”; more troops.