CHINA / POLITICS
Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe expected to focus on Afghanistan issue
Published: Sep 15, 2021 09:57 PM
Foreign ministers and officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization pose for a photo at a meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The security situation in Afghanistan dominated the meeting. Photo: AFP

Foreign ministers and officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization pose for a photo at a meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in July. The security situation in Afghanistan dominated the meeting. Photo: AFP



The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) council summit, to be held on Thursday and Friday amid the 20th anniversary of its founding, is expected to address SCO's past success in security and development of the region, membership expansion, as well as Afghanistan issue, including urging US-led Western countries to perform their duties, properly handle the refugee issues and manage the risk of terrorism spillover, analysts said. 

Iran is expected to become a member of the SCO, making the SCO to include all major neighbors of Afghanistan, analysts said, noting that the SCO is expected to come up with new mechanisms, such as an anti-narcotics center, to cope with new threats.  

The 21st meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State is expected to be held in the Tajik capital Dushanbe a week after the Taliban announced the interim government. Afghanistan is an SCO observer state and shares borders with several member states. 

A key focus of the summit is Afghanistan, as members will reach consensus in urging the US-led Western countries to perform their duties and urge the Taliban to completely cut itself from all terrorist groups, and discuss practical plans and new mechanisms on Afghanistan's reconstruction and refugee issue, Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times.

But it's unlikely for members to agree on whether to recognize the new Taliban government, Zhu said. 

Twenty years after its founding, the SCO has successfully ensured that Central Asia did not become another Middle East like some Western scholars predicted, although potential security risks remained, Ding Xiaoxing, director of the Eurasia institute of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times, noting that SCO has played a significant role in boosting the region's security and economic development. 

However, with the irresponsible and hasty withdrawal of US-led Western troops, the regional countries face multiple threats such as the refugee issue, terrorism and drug abuse, Ding said. 

The summit is also likely to see Iran become a member from an observer, making the SCO to include all major neighbors of Afghanistan and become the most important regional organization on the Afghan issue, Zhu Weilie, director of the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times. 

Zhu Weilie said that Iran will probably become one of the most influential outside players for Afghanistan, considering that Iran and Pakistan host the highest numbers of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers. If Iran joins the SCO, it will have more cooperation in intelligence sharing and coordinated operations with other member countries. This will be a powerful restraint to the possible spillover of extremists in the future situation of Afghanistan, experts said. 

Also on Thursday, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit is expected to be held in Dushanbe, and many SCO members are also CSTO members. 

Zhu Yongbiao said that CSTO members will discuss the US' military presence in Central Asia. 


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