The recent SCO Summit held in Samarkand was significant not only because it was held in-person after three years but also because of its rapid expansion and the increasing attention to economic development. The SCO’s progress on connectivity, commerce and digitalization is relevant for India which takes over the presidency in 2023.
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The relevance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has increased due to the clear divisions developing in the world, since the Ukraine crisis began. Several leaders will probably attend in-person, a chance to advance their regional and economic interests. India has good relations with most SCO countries, and sees the upcoming Summit as a way to secure its strategic and security objectives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s July visit to Iran was a geopolitical reset for both countries. The collapse of the JCPOA and the Ukraine crisis has strategically united Iran and Russia against their common adversary, the U.S. Russia is now a credible alternative to fill the investment vacuum for Iran’s defence, trade and energy sectors.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has been focused on resolving the Afghan crisis. But divergent views of members and the influence of China and Pakistan have eluded a solution. This has been further impeded by the ongoing sanctions and humanitarian issues which are beyond the organisation's scope.
The Taliban's resurgence since 2001 has been largely funded by the creation of an opium economy and extortion. Now, with the withdrawal of U.S. troops, legitimate aid from Afghanistan and the freezing of Afghan funds abroad, the Taliban will revive its informal sources of finance to stay afloat. A look at the financing that brought the Taliban back to Kabul.
China has followed Sun Tzu’s strategy of focussing on alliances - building its own and weakening those of its adversaries. Beijing’s carefully nurtured formations in West and Central Asia are part of this global power projection, especially with Pakistan, Iran and now, the Taliban, through projects like the Belt and Road Initiative. India must recalibrate its China policy and push for concerted regional responses to emerge as a balancing force against it.
The Taliban’s rapid advance towards Kabul shows clear signs of learning from previous failures. The chances of a revival of the old Northern Alliance are minimal. Regional powers are left with the option of maintaining diplomatic contact with the Taliban whilst not taking any assurances on trust.
The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in the U.S. has underlined the importance of cyber security in critical infrastructure. India has not escaped the brunt of a recent global surge in cyber attacks. Though New Delhi has taken steps to protect critical infrastructure, problems in information sharing of threat vulnerabilities impede an effective response.
The shifting geopolitics of the COVID-19 crisis might be an opportune time for India to consider new strategies for managing and curtailing Pakistan’s military aggression for the future. One policy tool used effectively by other countries is the imposition of economic sanctions. This podcast discusses the possibility of India imposing sanctions on Pakistan.
Scrapping the JCPOA will badly bruise Iran’s economy, citizens and foreign relations; it will have an impact on the U.S.’ allies too