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The historical city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan hosted the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier this month. The Russia-Ukraine war as well as the leading roles of Russia and China in the grouping have led the organization to increasingly be viewed as a geopolitical bloc against the west. Progress on Iran’s application for full membership in the SCO, which was officially announced at the Samarkand summit, seems to have further strengthened this perception.
A long road
Iran has held observer status in the SCO since 2005 and submitted its application for full membership in 2008. However, the SCO member states declined Iran’s accession request for over a decade, arguing that a country under United Nations sanctions cannot obtain full membership status. In reality, China and Russia—the SCO’s two major powers—did not want the organization to be drawn into the conflict between Iran and the west.
Now that Russia has entered an unprecedented confrontation with the west over its invasion of Ukraine...
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