United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait will now be recognised as dialogue partner status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) last Friday, alongside Maldives and Myanmar. This was announced in the Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting of SCO, which was held on 4-5 May in Goa, India.
The dialogue partner status enables the nations to get access to the intra-SCO events on the invitation by the member states.
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, drew attention towards his country’s shared common goals with SCO.
He said that as a member of the international community with a focus on multilateralism, UAE considers the importance of organisations like SCO in building partnerships for cooperation between member states towards common objectives.
He later said that the UAE would make progress towards increased participation with the SCO and its member nations. They are happy to be welcomed as a dialogue partner in an organisation whose global influence and importance are increasing steadily.
Jassim Al Najem, the Kuwaiti ambassador in New Delhi, views this as the stepping stone towards full membership. He believes this move to be in tandem with the foreign policy objectives of Kuwait. Najem emphasised that Kuwait focuses on pivotal sectors like global supply chain, food, economic cooperation, trade and energy security.
Najem also showed interest in improving their internal and external security with the SCO and a willingness to join the anti-terrorism activities of the security bloc.
Dr Abdulnasser Alshaali, UAE Ambassador to India, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of its accession as a dialogue partner to the SCO alongside Zhang Ming, the Secretary General of SCO.
The dialogue partner status permitted to UAE symbolises its constant efforts to build and sustain a diversified partnership with different strategic countries and international organisations.
Earlier in September 2022, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan were added as dialogue partners in the annual summit held in Samarkand.
Importance of SCO
SCO was established back in 2001 to counterweight the geopolitical hegemony of the United and its allied Western powers. The main goal of the organisation is to improve relations and cooperation among member states in crucial areas such as economics, education, energy, trade, science, political affairs, tourism, transportation, environmental protection, culture, security, stability and peace to establish international political and economic order.
The member states are China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The observer states are Mongolia, Belarus and Afghanistan.
The latest addition to dialogue partners are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and Bahrain. The existing dialogue partners are Sri Lanka, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Cambodia, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. SCO spans its reach across Eurasia, including India, Russia and China.
Saudi Arabia also became a member in late March this year, striking talks of getting closer to China – the arch-rival of its traditional ally, the United States.
Emily Hawthorne, a senior Middle East analyst at the US-based Risk Assistance Network and Exchange, views this move as Saudi balancing its relations with both and not being dependent on anyone.
She said that it is unnecessary to look at it as Saudi isolating or weakening its relations with the United States. She stated that the White House continues to be the Kingdom’s primary security guarantor.
Saudi Arabia is diversifying its global relations much the same way it is doing for its oil economy, which is reducing over-dependence on any one source.
It should be noted that BRICS has gained ample attention from the Middle East region. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Algeria are five Gulf nations that have expressed their interest in being a part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). BRICS is a counter of emerging market economies to the global powers of G7, an intergovernmental political forum comprising the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France and Italy.
Middle Eastern countries are perfectly balancing the act of maintaining relations with the White House, especially in matters concerning defence equipment. According to a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the US was the biggest arms exporter enjoying a 54 per cent market share in the Middle East and North Africa region.