Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Meetings in Bishkek

This appears to be the year that the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO) is really taking shape and asserting itself in Asia. The news media likes to present the SCO in ominous tones, suggesting it is the yin to NATO's yang, a dark doppelganger that seeks dangerous unknown Asian goals.

Ooooh, spookey. A militarized organization that doesn't include the U.S. or Europe. MSNBC suggests these people are our enemies - I guess it must be so. It does make you wonder why we do so much trade with China and borrow so much money from them.

Basically, this isn't an image that the SCO entirely objects to, as it certainly gives the relatively young organization an air of respectability. Maybe China and Russia didn't really need that, but it isn't as if NATO or anyone else was inviting them to join any gun clubs, so they decided to form their own.

It certainly doesn't help that Iran is an observer nation that is seeking full membership. It remains to be seen if China and Russia really want to take Iran under their wing, essentially offering military cooperation (and possible protection) to a potentially volatile neighbor.

Elena Skochilo, of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, News Briefing Central Asia project, with newly-won press credentials firmly in hand ("only" 508 people were permitted press access to the meetings) has photographs of the events on her blog. I anticipate she'll have more entries as events progress.

The meetings are a rare moment in the sun for little Kyrgyzstan. Resulting talk of various business deals are surfacing in the news. Russia teases with the possibility of $2 billion worth of investments in Kyrgyzstan (something the small nation could surely use). China pledges to increase trade with it's teeny, weeny neighbor (which to me seems like the cat playing with the mouse before eating it). Kyrgyzstan hopes for a part of the Turkmenistan-China natural gas pipeline to pass across it's territory.

And to top it all off, the group as a whole collectively mooned the United States and suggested they get the heck out of Central Asia if they know what is good for them.

Well ... they stopped far short of that but they did offer statements suggesting that Central Asia does not need outside help:

Stability and security in Central Asia are best ensured primarily through efforts taken by the nations of the region on the basis of the existing regional associations
Hint, hint.

Hey, when is the current U.S. lease up on the air base at Manas in Bishkek? I'm guessing we shouldn't be making any long-term arrangements there.

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Tim Lagrange said...

Well, for the moment I am researching the SCO. The specific focus of my research is how the views of the American hawks on this organisation, influences the view of the other NATO states. At a conference in Den Hague (Netherlands) there was suggested that the other NATO-states where interested in bilateral talks, but that the US refused...

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