Saudi Arabia has agreed to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security bloc made up of Russia and China. Photo/Algaloud City/Anadolu Agency
RIYADH – Cabinet Arab Saudi on Wednesday approved a royal decree to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an 8-nation security alliance including Russia and China.
“The Saudi cabinet approved a memorandum granting the kingdom the status of a dialogue partner,” state media Saudi Press Agency wrote.
Having status as a dialogue partner is the first step before Saudi Arabia is granted full membership status in the SCO.
Formed in 2001 by Russia, China, and the former Soviet states of Central Asia, the SCO is a political and security bloc aimed at countering Western influence.
The bloc, since its formation, has expanded its membership to include India and Pakistan. Iran also signed a document last year for full membership.
Saudi sources told Reuters on Thursday (30/3/2023), that the possibility of Saudi Arabia joining the SCO had been discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia in December.
Saudi Arabia’s move comes as the kingdom and other Persian Gulf countries are increasingly wary of losing the US as its historical guarantor of security and have been seeking to diversify partners.
Beijing’s growing influence in the region was evident earlier this month when it brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations after more than seven years of animosity.
China claims to have no ulterior motives in brokering peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A spokesperson from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said after the deal that China “does not pursue any selfish interests in the Middle East.”