Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)—Russia, China and the four central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—issued a joint statement opposing external intervention in Iran and Syria, at the recently concluded meeting of the Heads of State of the organization in Beijing on June 7, 2012.
"We believe any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force is unacceptable," the statement from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization read. "Such attempts could lead to unpredictably serious consequences, which would threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world."
On Syria, the statement called for "dialogues that respect Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."
Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao opposed the sanctions and the proposed military intervention by the US and western imperialist powers. "Both sides firmly oppose any attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis through foreign military intervention as well as promoting forced 'regime change' at the U.N. Security Council and other venues," the two presidents said. They reiterated support for the mediation efforts of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan and called on all parties in the conflict to stop violence and engage in dialogue.
As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia have used their veto powers on several occasions recently, to thwart the draft resolutions of the US and other western imperialist powers calling for sanctions against Syria and for military intervention in that country. In February, they vetoed a draft resolution calling on Syrian President Assad to step down. On June 1, 2012, they both vetoed a U.N. resolution seeking military intervention by blaming the Assad regime for the massacre of civilians in Houla in May this year.
The meeting of the SCO in Beijing took place at the same time as US Defence Secretary Panetta was on a nine-day tour of Asia that saw him addressing a major conference on security issues involving more than 30 states (including India) in Singapore. He followed it up with visits to Vietnam, India and Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama had announced that the US was going to project itself militarily as a major power in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming decades. Panetta's visit was to signal the commitment of US to this goal. In Singapore, he had one-on-one discussions with the main treaty allies of the US in the region, including Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia. He then visited Vietnam, which is embroiled in a deep dispute with China over islands in the South China Sea, before coming to India. In other words, he mainly chose to deal with states that have some contention with China, while leaving out China which is the major player in the Asia-Pacific. This is in keeping with the US strategy of keeping up a bilateral relationship with China on the one hand, while at the same time building up those forces that can serve as a counterweight to China.
Earlier, at the NATO summit in Chicago, Barack Obama had led the NATO allies in organising provocations against Russia, by announcing that the missile shield of Europe (targeted at Russia) was almost ready. Russia has been objecting to the deployment of missile systems directed against itself in the countries of Europe, which were earlier republics of the former Soviet Union. Russia has also warned that it could take preventive action against such installations. US imperialism has been trying to encircle Russia from the West and South. It has systematically developed relations with the Central Asian Republics bordering Afghanistan to establish military supply routes to Afghanistan.
The expression of opposition to the course of US imperialism by China and Russia at the SCO meeting in Beijing has to be seen in this context.
India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia enjoy observer status in the SCO. The keenness of the Indian ruling class to be a major player in Central Asia was clear in Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s intervention. He called for India to be accepted as a full member of the SCO. He emphasised that India was committed to a "North South Corridor" and to close relationships between India and the SCO countries. He declared that India was not a military ally of the US.
Pakistan President Zardari also sought full membership for his country in the SCO. He called for the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan.
It is also interesting to note that this year; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization granted Afghanistan "observer status" and in its closing statement, called for that country to become "an independent, neutral, peaceful and prosperous nation." Russia and China are acutely aware that NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the threats to Iran, Syria and Pakistan are part of the US strategy of conquering Asia. These are a direct threat to each and every member country of the SCO.
The SCO Summit in Beijing, the NATO summit in Chicago, the visit of US Defence Secretary Panetta to Asia, reveal the sharpening contradictions between the different imperialist powers. They show that the danger of the peoples being hurled into a reactionary imperialist war is very real.