Saturday, September 13, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Shanghai Cooperation Council Now a ‘Military Union,’ Russian Analyst Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 13 – The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was not formed “as an analogue to the European Union or NATO,” according to a Russian commentary, but the increase in East-West tensions as a result of the Ukrainian crisis led its leaders at the just-completed summit in Dushanbe to form “a military union” opposed to the Western alliance.


            An unsigned article on the portal today argues that the Dushanbe meeting by setting up “a single structure for the struggle with terrorism” in essence means that the SCO has become “a military union” and a powerful one at that with military contingents under a single command (


            This action was preceded by “the largest military exercises in the history of the SCO – ‘Peace Mission 2014’ – which took place on the territory of China August 24-29,” the commentary says.


            The “official” or at least nominal reason for this decision, says, is “the prospect of the rapid withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan” and the strengthening of the Taliban militants. But “comments by the president of Tajikistan” show that participants at Dushanbe were thinking more generally than that.


            Emomali Rakhmon said that there are growing concerns about the fact that non-state actors have acquired military equipment of a kind that earlier had belonged only to governments. “Such changes are changing in a significant way the character of the problems we are encountering and the approaches we need to adopt for their resolution.”


            “It is obvious,” the commentary continues, that what Rakhmon is talking about is ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, given that “representatives of that group already are acting in all SCO member states – Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and also in all states with SCO observer status – Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.”


            Despite all the complexities of relations among these countries, the commentary says, “their readiness to act as a united front against a common threat also means their readiness to agree with one another” on how to act against it.  And that in turn means that SCO is now more than an economic union; it is a military one as well.


            Indeed, given the overlap between SCO and the Eurasian Economic Union, the CIS and BRIKS, the commentary continues, “it is understandable why many experts consider the Dushanbe summit as an unequivocal declaration” against the United States and NATO, which it said, “have done so much for the formation of the international terrorist threat.”




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