Currently, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is the most important geopolitical organization of Asian countries in east, south, north, and central Asia. The Shanghai Five, namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan met and founded SCO in Shanghai in 1996. Uzbekistan joined as the 6th member five years later. Two of the SCO leading member countries are China and Russia who are also BRICS alliance members together. What is particularly intriguing about SCO is that its goals are fast-paced and fast-moving. For example, China has built pipelines from Central Asian oil-rich countries into China and recently agreed to a 3.5 billion deal to buy Caspian Sea oil from Central Asian countries.
Russia plays as much as an important role as China in that part of the world because these Central Asian countries are old satellite countries of the USSR; therefore, they share a close cultural affinity to Russia – particularly because the Central Asian populations can speak Russian. In fact, the Russian government implements military exercises periodically with its former satellite countries in the Central Asian region. Both Russia and Central Asian countries enjoy mutually beneficial and cordial bilateral relationships with each other. Both Afghanistan and Iran sit in on meetings as SCO observers while India and Pakistan await imminent entry into SCO simultaneously. One additional observer nation is Mongolia which borders China. The three dialogue partners include Belarus, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Guest attendants include ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS) and Turkmenistan. For Tehran, full membership status in SCO would give the Persian Gulf regional power a global security cushion as it counters the West diplomatically, politically, geopolitically, and strategically.
In Eurasia, the six full members account for 60% of the land mass and its population is a quarter of the world’s population. SCO will account for about half of human mankind when observer states are granted full membership. When India and Pakistan join SCO, it will mean two additional countries possessing nuclear arsenal, hardware, and programs. In the future, the nuclear powers in SCO will be China, India, Pakistan, and Russia and will form roughly a 3.1 billion population. For this reason alone, it will be SCO not BRICS which will give the US both geopolitical and strategic challenges. The thought of challenging 4 nuclear powers may force the US into retreat mode militarily as just a North American regional power rather continually playing the ‘world’s policeman’ and flexing its military muscle and might across the globe.