The role of international corridors and straits for Iran within the SCO

 It has offered full membership to Iran in the Shanghai Organization based on the help of China and Russia, which has many political, economic, military and security gains.  Here, the full membership of Tehran can open a political and economic outlet for it, which will remove it from the state of suffocation due to the sanctions.  Here, Tehran, like China and Russia, sees Tehran’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a gateway to breaking unilateralism and American hegemony over the world and gradually transforming into a multipolar world, as well as balancing its relations with Western countries that were affected by its nuclear file, so Iran made great efforts to join the organization.  Shanghai for cooperation, despite its collision with the wall of UN sanctions. Also, in view of the file of Western sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear file, its missile program and its regional policies, we find that Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Organization is an economic and political outlet for it, especially in light of the challenges facing Iran to open prospects for trade cooperation with other countries.  In addition, Tehran’s failure to ratify the laws of the “International Financial Action Task Force” (FATF) related to combating money laundering and terrorist financing are all challenges facing investment in Iran and international trade and financial exchange with it.  Therefore, the best option for the Iranians is their membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a door to ease the pressure and sanctions on them.

Iran seeks, through its membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to reap many gains at the political, security, military and economic levels, especially in light of Western pressure on Iran. Tehran attaches utmost importance to the trade aspect with the Shanghai countries, especially in light of the presence of important economic and maritime corridors internationally that are supervised by Tehran. This is after Tehran planned to play an active role in international transport, and here the Iranian government made great efforts with the help of China, Russia and India as well to restore its strategic position on the “transit” lines, as a global economic outlet for Iran to link East Asian countries to the European continent, as well as facilitating trade between China and Russia, which have long-term strategic agreements with Tehran. The economies and the movement of trade and investment that pass through Iran through its essential role as transit, is a suitable alternative to oil revenues. Therefore, Iran has prepared a comprehensive plan for the development of the transportation sector to take advantage of its strategic location as a transit and economic forum for international economic corridors. In order for Iran to become a vital link between Asia and Europe, it worked to activate all transportation lines that pass through Iranian territory, due to its geographical location, which enabled it to attract a large part of global trade, which is what the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization rely on with Iran.            

  The first sign of economic cooperation between China and Iran, under its membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, was the launch of the international freight train from (Chinese Ningxia region) towards Iranian territory, which arrives in Iran after less than 20 days, after passing through Kazakhstan, and transporting its cargo across the Caspian Sea towards the Iranian port of Anzali, after which it will go to many countries through Iran, east and west. Also, since the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Tehran has found in international threats to close land transit corridors between Russia and European countries an opportunity to increase its share of global trade and provide job opportunities for Iranians by opening its international corridors for the benefit of Russia and China.      

Iran will add to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization a lot in terms of economic and trade, in light of the passage of more than five international corridors through Iranian territory, in addition to other corridors that have not been fully implemented due to the lack of the necessary infrastructure on the Iranian side. The most important of these Iranian corridors, are:    .       

(The north-south Iranian corridor linking India and Russia, the Trasica corridor that represents a bridge for Iran between the countries of Central Asia and the European continent, and the ancient Silk Road corridor of Iran connecting East Asia, the Mediterranean Sea and the Caucasus countries)                    

In addition to the share of the Shanghai countries in the global economy as a whole, we find that Tehran’s permanent membership in Shanghai will open its markets to the Iranians, in addition to strengthening its position at the international level and undermining the continuous Western pressure on it.  We find that Iran’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will open broader economic and trade horizons for it, in addition to thwarting American and Western plans aimed at isolating and putting pressure on Tehran.                  

 Regarding what Tehran can add with its membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, we find that Tehran’s energies in the field of transit and energy are very large, so it receives the attention of the Shanghai countries, especially China, and the international corridors of the Iranians help facilitate the international trade movement between the countries of the Shanghai Organization on the one hand.  , and between member states with the African continent and Southwest Asian countries on the other hand, not to mention that it will link the markets of eastern countries such as China and India with European markets. Therefore, Iran took the initiative to submit an official proposal to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, upon its acceptance of its membership, to adopt a unified currency for financial exchanges between member states. If the proposal is implemented, this could facilitate trade between the member states of the organization.          

   Iran will benefit from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the economic level, if we know that about half of the world’s population resides in the Shanghai Organization countries, which constitute more than 20% of the global economy’s output.  On the political and strategic level, Tehran’s official presence, along with other eastern powers such as China, Russia and India, will strengthen its economy and spare it from making concessions in the nuclear negotiations in order to reduce the economic pressure imposed on it.         Finally, we come to the conclusion that these Western and American pressures on Iran, Russia and China are a common factor that brings these countries closer together, and motivates them to develop their trade and financial relations, which ultimately contributes to Tehran circumventing the sanctions imposed on it, and contributes to mitigating its effects on  Member countries of the Organization.                   

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit