Iran will join SCO
Russia and China have already agreed with Iran's membership. Even India and Pakistan, who were officially not members before the meeting in Tashkent on 23rd-24th of June, welcomed Iran too. It is interesting to analyze opinions inside Iran regarding the perception of SCO and its members. Actually, interests to join SCO were very high in Iran. Officials often noted about new opportunities for the Islamic Republic of Iran. But there are also liberal pro western lobbies focused on different goals. This dichotomy may be envisioned through scholarly discussions.
Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Tehran Jahangir Karami in his article «Why Iran Should Become a Member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?» writes that «Iran should get rid of its strategic isolation with regard to global and regional equations, and since it is currently not possible for Iran to create and play an axial role in an effective institution or obtain equal membership in a strategic alliance, other options such as this regional organization can be considered a middle way for Tehran. Iran's isolation was especially evident in recent months and in the light of decisions taken and statements issued by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Membership in this organization would not be at odds with any of the legal and political principles of the country. On the opposite, the experience of recent years, especially pressures mounted on Iran by Saudi Arabia and Turkey within three institutions, namely, the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, clearly show how institutional tools can play an effective role in multilateral diplomacy.»
He also argues that Iran's stabilizing and state-building role, as well as its important experiences in helping regional peace, stability, and security, as well as in fighting terrorism during the past decades, gifts the SCO with a good opportunity, as it can boost the capabilities of this organization over a vast geographical expanse from the Middle East to South Asia and Central Asia. Iran's geographical, cultural, economic, and political capacities are such that it can boost the capabilities and capacities of this organization for regional cooperation and convergence. In doing so, it can help revive the axis of Asian trade and cultural interactions and cooperation, which has been dormant since about two centuries ago.
From the other side, reformists and liberals look to the West and at the same time use the rhetoric of the independence and traditional values of Iran.
During the elections, liberals who controlled electoral commissions in some cities filtered the attempts of non-liberals to be elected. The reason for the rejection were mostly labeled as «insufficient religiousness» of the candidates.
A similar kind of umbrella was also used to discredit the idea of the SCO and multipolarity.
The example of Hassan Beheshtipour’s opinion is obvious for SCO's case.
In his blog he argues that because of the Constitution of Iran, it must to cooperate mostly with Muslim countries. Because the main actors of the SCO - China and Russia - are not muslim countries, it is better to avoid the SCO.
But he didn’t mention cooperation with North Korea and Venezuela (also for military sector) or African countries. And why is Iran so for the European strategy? He is also afraid that Iran will lose part of its sovereignty after joining the SCO. But Russia or new members like India have not lost any.
The next mistake Beheshtipour made is misunderstanding Russian and Chinese counterterrorism strategy. He notes that «What Iran considers as religious extremism is mostly related to Wahhabi and Takfiri groups, which is quite different from what Chinese and Russians and most other members of the SCO believe in this regard by considering all Islamist groups as extremist». This is not true because Russia works with Hezbollah and senior officials of Hamas have met with Russian leaders before in Moscow. In Russia, there is a very clear difference between extremist\terrorist organizations and religious or political groups. The author also preferred to work with the Gulf Cooperation Council, but his intention is different than reality. Sunni countries see Iran as a possible rival and would like to not give Iran any more opportunities than they have now. It is also the reason for the proxy wars by other means of Saudi Arabia and Qatar against Iran.
In conclusion of his article, you will see that the author prefers multilateralism (the same term used by Hillary Clinton) than multipolarity.
But for Eurasia, which Iran is a part of, multilateralism means disunity and fragmentation for the benefit of external actors (USA). Some countries especially from the Rimland zone can gain some profit from this approach but it will not work for a long time.
Multipolarity is more preferred in strategic sense and the SCO will be a kind of glue to unite different states with different political ideologies towards one geopolitical basis.