Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Iran and Russia nip at US global dominance

At conference in Siberia, leaders of Russia, China, India, and Iran float idea of new 'supranational' currency. China offers $10 billion to neighbors.

By Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor / June 16, 2009

Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) pose for a photo at Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday.


Enlarge Photos


The "age of empires has ended" and the "international capitalist order is retreating," declared a beaming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, speaking in the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg before an audience that included the top leaders of Russia, China, and India.

Skip to next paragraph

Experts are debating why Iran's controversial president chose to address the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional grouping led by Russia and China – of which Iran is only an observer – even as he still faces mass protests and sharp questions at home over his deeply disputed election victory last week.

Some argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad selected exactly the right forum in which to make his case. The six-member SCO, founded in 2001, has grown rapidly into a key political and economic alliance, which has successfully moved to oust United States military bases from member states Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and is angling for a much wider role in regional affairs.

The group comprises Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia attend meetings as observers.

"The SCO is evolving into a kind of organization for countries that feel themselves excluded from the global system, who feel victimized by the US-dominated unipolar order," says Alexander Dugin, who heads the right-wing International EurAsian Movement, an influential group of Russian businessmen, intellectuals, and officials. "Now this unipolar world is being shaken to its foundations by economic crisis and imperial retreat, and it's time to define a new project of a multi-polar world."

Never mind Iran's troubles at home

In a closed-door meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday, Ahmadinejad is thought to have explained his position on the controversial elections. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov later told journalists that Iran's elections are an "internal affair," adding that "we welcome [Ahmedinejad] on Russian soil and see it as symbolic that he made his first visit to Russia. This allows hope for progress in bilateral affairs."

Members urge non-dollar currency