Category Archives: BRICS / SCO / EAEU

BRICS Condemns Israel War Crimes in Gaza

Leaders of emerging economies demanded on Tuesday that Israel stop its war on Gaza and that hostilities cease on both sides in order to alleviate the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

The BRICS group condemned attacks on civilians in Israel and Palestine during a virtual summit that was presided over by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Several of the leaders referred to the forcible relocation of Palestinians, either inside or outside of Gaza, as “war crimes.”

According to a summary delivered by the chair,

“We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land.

… the forced transfer and deportation of Palestinians, whether inside Gaza or to neighbouring countries, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and war crimes and violations under International Humanitarian Law.”

The big rising economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, collectively known as the BRICS, are striving for more influence in the international system that has long been dominated by the United States and its Western allies.

These nations are frequently seen as the leaders of the “Global South,” as it is known in the language of international diplomacy. However, more than just these five nations discussed the conflict on Tuesday.

The BRICS had decided earlier this year to grow and include Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran as members starting in 2024.

The gathering that South Africa organized was attended by the leaders of these six nations as well. Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, also attended the summit.

The chair’s report, which essentially captures the core of the atmosphere in the room, emphasizes the mounting calls for an end to the Gaza Strip war coming from the Global South.

The battle started on October 7, when the militant group Hamas attacked Israeli villages, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 more. In retaliation, Israel has been shelling Gaza nonstop, hitting schools, hospitals, and refugee camps. This has killed over 13,000 people, many of them children, and violated international law.

Millions of people have since marched for a “Free Palestine” and demanded a ceasefire throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Scholars from Africa and other regions have charged the US, UK, and EU with being hypocritical for purporting to

Some nations were more aggressive in their presentations, but the chair’s summary seemed “mild and somewhat balanced,” according to Steven Gruzd, an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

President Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is now leading the BRICS, said in his opening remarks that Israel’s actions “are in plain violation of international law” and that the “collective punishment of Palestinian people by Israel “is a war crime… akin to genocide.” In addition, Ramaphosa declared that Hamas “must be held accountable” for violating international law.

India took a somewhat more moderate stand, with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stating that “peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy” as well as “a need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support” were both necessary.

BRICS “Growing Assertiveness”

Some nations were more aggressive in their presentations, but the chair’s summary seemed “mild and somewhat balanced,” according to Steven Gruzd, an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

President Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is now leading the BRICS, said in his opening remarks that Israel’s actions “are in plain violation of international law” and that the “collective punishment of Palestinian people by Israel “is a war crime… akin to genocide.”

In addition, Ramaphosa declared that Hamas “must be held accountable” for violating international law.

India took a somewhat more moderate stand, with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stating that “peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy” as well as “a need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support” were both necessary.

“I am not sure I recall a similar extraordinary summit being called. It does reflect on the growing assertiveness and confidence of the BRICS grouping, not waiting for the West. BRICS has generally shied away from political and security issues; this meeting goes against that trend.”

Steven Gruzd, analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

The BRICS nations collectively account for 25% of the world’s economy and 40% of the world’s population.

Israel’s fiercest adversary, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, suggested that the Palestinians should hold a referendum to decide their future.
However, not just India but a number of the BRICS countries have developed relationships with Israel that they will be hesitant to break.

Gruzd points out that although China has significant investments in Israel, India has even closer historical ties to the nation and benefits from joint military and technological ventures.

However, India might not be able to control how a new BRICS+ will respond to Israel given that a ferocious Iran is expected to join the group, according to Gruzd.

According to analysts, South Africa, the smallest of the BRICS nations and a nation that endured harsh apartheid for over 40 years, sees parallels in the Palestinian struggle and has continuously been among the most vocal proponents of a ceasefire.

It has also long been Israel’s main trading partner in Africa. That relationship seemed to have reached a turning point on Tuesday.

Voters in parliament decided to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, which marked a sea change in the situation.

On November 6, the nation’s diplomats were already brought back from Israel. In response to Pretoria’s growing hostility, Israel called Eliav Belotserkovsky, its ambassador to South Africa, back for “consultations” on Monday.

Last week, South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti sent a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking them to look into possible war crimes in Gaza.

Bibi Netanyahu Should Be Sent to The Hague for War Crimes

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, increased the pressure on Monday by requesting an International Criminal Court warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He further stated that it would be a “total failure” if the court chose not to look into the leader.

Because President Vladimir Putin has an ICC arrest warrant out for war crimes committed in Ukraine, South Africa was able to persuade Russia earlier this year not to send him to the BRICS Summit in August.

South Africa, a signatory to the ICC, would have been required to arrest Putin had he attended the summit there.

According to activist Muhammed Desai of Africa4Palestine, the BRICS position announced on Tuesday—which was spearheaded by South Africa—may encourage other nations to vocally oppose the war.

“South Africa is a significant economic and political powerhouse on the African continent as well as a country with one of the most embassies and high commissions in the world. Thus, its stance and position does have clout within the diplomatic arena.”

Muhammed Desai of Africa4Palestine

Others, however, contend that the coalition’s political clout is insufficient to truly influence Israel’s war strategy. Gruzd of SAIIA stated, “To be honest, I don’t think they have much leverage on Israel directly.” “It won’t have much of an impact on the West, other than amplifying the calls for a ceasefire,” I add.

Still, their power is increasing. Many countries want to lessen their reliance on the US-led Western financial system, which is one of the main reasons for the expansion of BRICS earlier this year. Dozens of countries have applied or expressed interest in joining.

As the group’s 2024 president, Russia is anticipated to advocate for the use of local currencies rather than the US dollar, which is currently the currency of choice, for international trade payments.

Some claim that in order for the voice of the Global South to be heard, that platform is essential. Africa4Palestine’s Desai stated, “BRICS offers another voice within the global world order, and that is necessary to counter the current Western hegemonic view.”

Russia’s Sacred Duty to Gaza

Russian President Vladimir Putin made this argument on Wednesday, saying that Moscow has a moral duty to provide humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza.

He had expressed to other BRICS leaders the previous day how videos showing Palestinian children undergoing surgery without anesthesia had affected him.

When you watch how children are being operated on with no anesthesia – this of course arouses very special feelings. This is a very important, humanitarian, noble mission. We need to help people suffering as a result of the ongoing events.

President Putin, addressing the Russian cabinet

The head of Russia continued by saying that helping Palestinian civilians in Gaza “our sacred duty.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping defined all the major decisions embedded in the 15th BRICS summit in South Africa as “historic”. That may be seen as an understatement.

Continue reading BRICS 11 Strategic Tour de Force: Death Knell for the Petrodollar Sends Shockwaves Through the Empire!

New Members Announced on Expanded BRICS+

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the BRICS leaders have made the decision to invite Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia to become full members of BRICS. This membership is set to commence from January 1, 2024.

Continue reading New Members Announced on Expanded BRICS+

BRICS Summit 2023: World Leaders Unveil Bold Visions for Global Growth and Cooperation

Leaders from the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, delivered their speeches on the first day of the BRICS Summit 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this summit, the leaders discussed their vision for the future of the BRICS group and addressed important global issues.

Continue reading BRICS Summit 2023: World Leaders Unveil Bold Visions for Global Growth and Cooperation

Iran Becomes the 9th Member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The addition of Iran as the ninth full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an influential security and trade alliance, has been welcomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Continue reading Iran Becomes the 9th Member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Saudi Arabia Makes its Eurasian Shift

Saudi Arabia’s recent reconciliations with Iran and Syria under Chinese-Russian guidance is perceived as a step toward reducing Riyadh’s dependence on the US, while also advancing Beijing and Moscow’s political and economic influence in West Asia.

Continue reading Saudi Arabia Makes its Eurasian Shift

Russia, India, China, Iran: the Quad that really matters

Southeast Asia is right at the center of international relations for a whole week viz a viz three consecutive summits: Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.  

Continue reading Russia, India, China, Iran: the Quad that really matters

‘Peaceful modernization’: China’s offering to the Global South

Xi Jinping just offered the Global South a stark alternative to decades of western diktats, war, and economic duress. ‘Peaceful modernization’ will establish sovereignty, economy, and independence for the world’s struggling states.

Continue reading ‘Peaceful modernization’: China’s offering to the Global South

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to Be Driven by ‘Responsible Powers’ Russia and China

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

Continue reading ‘Samarkand Spirit’ to Be Driven by ‘Responsible Powers’ Russia and China

In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in Full Swing

Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

Pepe Escobar is a columnist at The Cradle, editor-at-large at Asia Times and an independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia. Since the mid-1980s he has lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Singapore and Bangkok. He is the author of countless books; his latest one is Raging Twenties.

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