India’s and Pakistan’s joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will have controversial impact on the organization, Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the US-based Hudson Institute, believes.
“Membership enlargement could make the organization stronger by giving the SCO more collective resources (people, aggregate GDP, etc.), but it could also weaken the SCO’s internal cohesion due to the well-known differences between the new members, reinforcing the divergences already present in the organization,” Weitz told.
India and Pakistan are expected to become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at its Astana Summit on June 8-9.
Commenting on Iran’s interest in a full SCO membership, the analyst noted that the prospects of its joining had been improving, but may have weakened due to the Trump administration’s pushing for a tougher line regarding Iran.
“The SCO members do not want to antagonize the new US president,” Weitz believes.
According to the expert, in particular Russia likely would have been more eager for Iranian membership if Hillary Clinton had become US president.
Weitz stressed that elevation to a full membership, rather than their current observer statuses, gives India, Pakistan and Iran more influence and access within the organization as well as throughout Eurasia.
“More concretely, those three states are trying to strengthen ties with several other SCO members and SCO membership may facilitate that,” he said.
The SCO members now are China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are the SCO observer countries, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.
World media monitoring