Shanghaied in Shanghai
Last Friday, we noted that Iran was to meet up with their partners, China and Russia, in Moscow.
China (‘Concerned’ China) has sent an envoy to Iran, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, for stopover talks before both proceed to Moscow to join up with the other Iranian enabler within the UN Security Council. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “The visit aims at stepping up exchanges with all parties concerned in a bid to help resolve the nuclear issue.” He added that China is “worried about the way in which things are developing.” That could mean a lot of things, but likely refers more to the American debate over strikes hitting a crescendo.
The extent of that partnership is taking even more concrete form. From Regime Change Iran, we learn of an Asia Times article reporting that China and Russia are welcoming Iran into the SCO. Also noteworthy and troubling is that “Mongolia, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members” along with Iran. If the SCO were an economic organization it would be one thing. But it is clearly a security organization (even a military confederacy?) under the thin guise of an economic cooperative.
Consider that the “SCO’s decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15.”
What position might Russia and China dictate that the SCO adopt? That it will include a critical and indispensable American ally in the War on Terror, Pakistan, and India, finally assuming ally status and newly declared American nuclear partner is troubling.
If this proceeds as envisioned by China and Russia, the impact it will have on relationships with the two American allies, both new and fragile, could be destructive.
The timing is quite deliberate.
By the end of April the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report to the United Nations Security Council in New York regarding Iran’s compliance with the IAEA resolutions and the Security Council’s presidential statement, which stresses the importance of Iran “reestablishing full, sustained suspension of uranium-enrichment activities”.
The SCO membership is therefore a lifeline for Iran in political and economic terms. The SCO is not a military bloc but is nonetheless a security organization committed to countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. SCO membership would debunk the US propaganda about Iran being part of an “axis of evil”.
The article also quotes Gennady Yefstafiyev, a former general in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, who wrote a commentary in China’s People’s Daily on April 13 decrying US actions and attempts to halt the Iranian nuclear program through the UN.
“The real intention behind the US fueling the Iran issue is to prompt the UN to impose sanctions against Iran, and to pave the way for a regime change in that country. The US’s global strategy and its Iran policy emanate out of its decision to use various means, including military means, to change the Iranian regime. This is the US’s set target and is at the root of the Iran nuclear issue.”
He went on to state that the root intent is American hegemony in the region and control over gas and oil, which is patently false (see Iraq). But to the above statement of the intent to create the conditions for a regime change in Iran, he is absolutely correct and there should be no hesitance in official US acknowledgement.
Clearly, via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the lines are being overtly drawn in the sand, and on which side Russia and China are resting their shoes has never been more clear.
That it potentially includes now both Pakistan and India joining the Sino-Russo stance on the Iranian sprint toward nuclear arms is cause for alarm.
It may be time for President Bush (and more importantly, the American public) to revisit and re-state with post 9/11 clarity, “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Nuance on this issue is more than dangerous. It may be destructive.
The stakes with a potentially nuclear premier State Sponsor of Terrorism cannot be overstated, and the lines are being drawn for us to either recognize and address…or ignore.