What is the perceived trajectory of Iran and its integration into international and local structures?
High-level talks and negotiations on diplomatic and other channels on integrating Iran into large international structures have recently intensified. About two years ago, observers claimed that the accession of the Islamic Republic to the Eurasian Economic Union was imminent. However, the process stalled. At first, it was the pandemic. Then the Special Military Operation in Ukraine gave additional arguments into the hands of opponents of the accession of Iran to that community.
However, at present, the consultations are moving rapidly. Iran is officially an observer in the SCO. The republic recently applied to join the BRICS. It signed an agreement with Russia on the joint construction of the railway section Resht – Astara. That road finally forms the global transit route North–South. It also attracts China due to the need to expand the capabilities of another transit route – East-West, or in the Chinese version, “Silk Road”.
China is strongly supporting Iran’s full membership in the SCO. Iran’s membership in the SCO will create a large “security space”. At the same time, Iran’s inclusion in the BRICS will mean closer and more efficient channels between resources and markets. It will benefit both Iran itself and all current members.
Membership in BRICS imposes significantly lower obligations on community members than the SCO. Even more so with the EAEU. Among other things, BRICS does not need to coordinate customs tariffs, licensing and certification standards for goods, quality requirements, simplify border crossing regimes and comply with a number of other conditions. All that is required with EAEU.
The expansion of BRICS in favour of Iran can bring a new living stream to the organisation’s activities. It is worth recalling that before the entry of South Africa, the block was in a state of stagnation. The economic trajectory of the block was ambiguous.
Healthy growth with the BRICS
China has the largest economy in BRICS and accounts for more than 70% of the total value of this association, which is almost 30 trillion dollars. India ranks second with 13%, while Russia, South Africa and Brazil make up the remaining 17%. If Iran joins BRICS, it will receive almost unlimited opportunities for completely ignoring Western sanctions.
Judging by the position that Tehran took regarding the events in Ukraine, hopes for normalizing Iran’s relations with the Western bloc are becoming weaker. The leadership of the Islamic Republic in such conditions is actually forced to look for alternative options for economic survival. After joining the SCO last year, participation in BRICS could be Iran’s second step toward the East. Membership in the EAEU can provide Iran with the position of the southern political and economic core of this association. Iran is quite capable of becoming the gates of the EAEU both in the Middle East and South Asia.
According to the German Institute for International Relations and Security in Berlin: “The Rukhani administration tried to pursue a balanced foreign policy and believed that normal relations with the West are the key to expanding relations with the East and vice versa. But since in the past President Raisi came to power, Iran’s foreign policy is becoming increasingly anti-Western in the traditional sense of the word “.
Iran’s operational decisions to join various non-Western groups – from the SCO to BRICS – seem to be an inevitable path that a country must follow in a world where the West is experiencing a political, economic and moral decline.