During the summit of the heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Kazakhstan’s capital city Astana June on 8-9, Pakistan and India have become permanent members of SCO. By this means, four members of the SCO have a coast to the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and roughly 55,000 km of Eurasia coast is under the control of the SCO, which equals to about 6 million square miles of maritime jurisdiction. Considering the possible permanent membership of Iran in the long run, which has an observer status and persistently expresses its willingness to join the organisation, SCO will possess an enormous and quite deterrent maritime influence. However, it is not as easy as falling off a log and assuming that it succeeds, it would eventually dominate and further polarise the current world system. Such target could be achieved not only by Iran’s full membership but also by ensuring that Turkey; a balancing and rising power attends the Greater Eurasia project.
SCO, as an intergovernmental organisation, fundamentally aspires; political, economic, military cooperation and currently comprises of the following members; Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India. The observer states are Belarus, Mongolia, Iran, and Afghanistan. It was allegedly founded to balance the international military organisation of the West, that is; NATO. However, SCO’s main security concerns were Islamist organisations and drug trafficking in Central Asia, and thus its basic aim was to maintain peace, stability and security in the region through mutual collaboration in various fields. The SCO members share intelligence and extradite “criminals” among them and have also jointly performed military exercises even though it is not a military alliance in its essence.
In addition to military cooperation, the total economic size of the SCO, with the participation of Pakistan and India, exceeded 15 trillion dollars and accounted for about 20 percent of the 74 trillion dollars world economy. However, SCO is still far from an economic integration similar to the European Union. Nonetheless, they have a serious contender in this field. In this sense, China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative is portrayed as an indication of a greater Eurasia project, especially in the economic pillar. The project’s land transit routes also point out the significance of Iran and Turkey and sea routes propose high dominance in the Indian Ocean. The most important aspect of this project includes; openness to potential participants, efforts to limit potential trade barriers as well as attempts to devise an economic and development cooperation formula with regional states which would be an alternative to the American concept. What’s worse for US’s strategic thinking is that regional power such as Turkey and Iran are now much more enthusiastic to become part of this greater Eurasian project. The shoe is on the other foot. The more the US fails and turns into a foe in the region, the more regional power come together and stand out against its policies.
Implications and future expectations for the greater Eurasia project are;
- SCO should transmute into a political-economic alliance (a supranational organisation similar to EU) and also create its military structure. By this means, it should become an attracting and favourable settlement for growth tend power in the periphery.
- Turkey and Iran’s sphere of influence capacity should not be underestimated. Therefore, if they apply for full membership, prominent members; Russia and China should strongly support such initiative.
- The greater Eurasia project, while it tries to counterbalance the Western powers, possess a significant obstacle for US’s strategic interests and would eventually polarise the system as it was the case in the Cold-war era.
- The multipolar world system is highly in danger as Western powers progressively aggravate the periphery states of SCO. Thus, whether the greater Eurasia project succeeds or not, depends on the integrating tendency of Turkey and Iran.
As the world’s cycle of desperation intensifies gradually, countries try to find new ways out. Russia and China hand in hand will relish initiatives and challenge Western hegemony. The brand-new hope will prevail from the Orient, just like the sun rises from the East. Moreover, this time, the East is riding on a wave of downwind.
 “Russia’s Greater Eurasia and China’s New Silk Road: adaptation instead of competition.”, OSW, https://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/osw-commentary/2016-07-21/russias-greater-eurasia-and-chinas-new-silk-road-adaptation, 13.07.2017.