The BRICS group aimed at collaborating diversity in the global power alignment
The five-member BRICS group, an alliance of emerging economies, has announced its plans to expand its fleet of members. Their repugnance for the hegemony of the West in formulating the global order has pushed them to form their own alliances to counter them.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, hold a quarter of the global economy and cater to 40% of the world’s population. Due to the concerns of an increasing divide in geopolitical polarisation and the struggle to survive amidst the monopoly of the West-led World Bank and IMF or the Group of 7, they have decided to open gates for more inclusivity and representation.
The 15th summit held in Johannesburg witnessed the invitation to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, and Argentina to join the group with their membership starting from January next year.
The BRICS group said that they aimed at collaborating diversity in the global power alignment. The alignment towards a global power has increased after the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the US-China trade war. Smaller or developing nations have been caught up in the economic war and are pressured to choose sides or maintain a neutral stance according to their national interests.
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, announced the new members on the last day of the summit. He posted on X that BRICS represents an equal partnership of nations that hold different stances but a common goal of a better world.
The New Development Bank, or the BRICS bank, had previously allowed The UAE and Egypt to become its stakeholders. Saudi Arabia and Algeria have also expressed their desires to join the board as shareholders.
This expansion has rolled out the carpet for other countries to become a member in the future. Earlier, more than 40 countries had expressed their interest in joining the group, and even 22 nations had officially applied to join the bloc. They believe that being a part of this alliance would provide them with developmental financing and other economic benefits besides political security. They look at maintaining healthy relations with global powers like Russia, China, and India for national security and having access to investments and huge markets for the betterment of their economies.
Inclusion of Iran
Iran’s invitation has raised eyebrows for the wrong reasons. It is the arc-rival of China’s tech war opponent, the United States. This displays that China and Russia advocated for its membership amidst India, South Africa, and Brazil, which have strong diplomatic relations with Washington.
Some experts believe that this is one of the most significant developments from the three-day summit. The summit also lagged in achieving its long-withstanding goal of launching a BRICS currency backed by gold to challenge the dominance of the US dollar.
Internal distant perspectives
The group displayed unison at the conference, but member nations had different opinions on expansion. Several officials fear this group becoming another bloc of global power working for individual benefits.
India has been locked in a territorial dispute with China for decades and has cautiously voted for expansion to safeguard its own role in the group. South Africa and Brazil are navigated through thin lines of diplomacy to prevent isolating their North American and European nations.
South Africa showed that the invitation to Iran was not an aggressive move towards the West. Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s representative on the BRICS, said that the BRICS wants to be more inclusive rather than a bloc with an anti-West stance.
Jake Sullivan, national security adviser of the White House, told reporters that they don’t look at BRICS as a geopolitical rival to themselves or anyone else. He mentioned that the United States is strong and healthy with India, Brazil, and South Africa and is constantly trying to improve its relations with China and pushing Russia back from its aggression.
Saudi Arabia is the BRICS’s largest trading partner from the Middle East and has recently strengthened ties with China. They have also fought back against the arm-twisting of the United States in matters of oil production, displaying their independence from the White House despite having a historical military dependence on the Pentagon.
Egypt, the second largest economy in Africa, has built itself in the hands of the United States and its Arab allies. It got widespread support from them in exchange for advertising their Western values and maintaining regional power stability. In between these, they have developed healthy relations with Russia and China and have balanced their international relations quite tactfully.
Argentina is another member nation juggling with a crashing economy and foreign reserves. They are the highest recipients of combined loans from the IMF in history. They view this BRICS membership as a financial lifeline.
Iran secured membership to boost ties with non-Western powers to alienate the West’s efforts to isolate the country. It has managed to sell discounted oil to China despite US sanctions on its oil reserves that hold over 25% of the Middle Eastern region.
The UAE was also invited as a formal member, which had indirectly joined the bloc’s New Development Bank as an investor in June this year.