The world has been in a condition of global transit in search of a new world order for over 30 years since the fall of the USSR and the breakup of the bipolar world order—the USSR/Warsaw Pact bloc and USA/NATO—as a result of which security and stability will be ensured. Naturally, this process is connected not only with the desire of some and the unwillingness of other powers to search for a new system of international relations but is also a consequence of the objective balance of forces in terms of economic, military, and political potential.
The G7, which stands for the US monopoly and the submission of NATO members and their allies, is unable to serve the legitimate interests of the rest of the world. As evidenced by development trends at the beginning of the 21st century, the world is diverse, and new international relationships are emerging in opposition to the dominance of the Anglo-Saxons led by the United States (as well as any other monopoly in the system of international relations). Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vision of a multipolar world is gaining momentum in the international community and taking on a fresh meaning in modern global relations.
The BRICS group becomes the alternative to unify emerging nations. Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the six new countries that will join the BRICS organization, according to a historic decision reached during the organization’s summit this summer in Johannesburg, South Africa. As from January 1, 2024, the BRICS will receive the new name “5+6” and acquire new influence in the world economy and politics.
In terms of economics, the renewed BRICS has developed itself into an association of the largest oil and gas producers in the world. Its share of global purchasing power is 37.7%, compared to about 30% for the Group of Seven. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa account for 26% of the global GDP. More than 40% of the world’s population is represented by the BRICS group, and geographically, its members are spread across four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The domination of the US dollar in international trade is without doubt diminished by BRICS, which promotes the greater use of national currencies in commercial transactions amongst each other. It is feasible that the BRICS countries may have a unified currency in the not-too-distant future.
The BRICS’s expansion through the addition of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt significantly weakens, if not undermines, the US position in the strategically important Middle East region. Until recently, the two Arab states of the Persian Gulf had been the backbone of Washington’s “petrodollar” policy.
Mark Milley, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was bitterly disappointed by the BRICS expansion at the Johannesburg summit. “Obviously, the region (the Middle East) is a primary source of oil and energy resources for other parts of the world. I can’t imagine that the United States would ever walk away from the Middle East,” Milley added.
Turkish columnist Mehmet Ali Güller argues that the BRICS membership of the Persian Gulf’s biggest oil-producing countries (IRI, KSA, and UAE) will undoubtedly have an impact on the entire Middle East, including Turkey. The existing American Middle East security framework, which is based on the Iran-Saudi confrontation and Israel’s anti-Iranian stance, will be rendered obsolete.
Naturally, China has played a crucial role in this process of Middle East security infrastructure reform by launching Iranian-Saudi reconciliation and partnership. Meanwhile, the West’s anti-Russian sanctions, which are being spearheaded by the United States, have actually helped to accelerate the development of Russian-Iranian and Russian-Arab cooperation.
Today, a number of nations, including Turkey, a member of NATO, have already indicated a strong interest in forging a successful collaboration with the BRICS nations and are evaluating their chances of developing positive ties with Russia, a key member of this organization. In this regard, the aforementioned Turkish columnist Mehmet Ali Güller lists the diplomatic conferences where Turkey engages in dialogue with BRICS members Russia and Iran in one of his columns on the pages of Cumhuriyet.
He singled out the Astana Conference on the Syrian problem, where Ankara gained experience from ongoing contact with Tehran and Moscow on crucial regional concerns. However, as is well known, friends of the Turkic World in Kazakhstan hastily declined to continue the Astana Platform’s operations as of June this year.
For some reason, the Turkish expert neglects to mention a different, equally crucial geographic location where a triple dialog between Russia, Iran, and Turkey might develop in the Transcaucasia, where Ankara has proposed a regional platform known as “3+3” (i.e., Iran, Russia, Turkey + Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia).
Turkey is now researching the potential rapprochement with BRICS at the level of specialists and commercial initiatives, where the possibility of joining BRICS is not out of question. Ankara, in the meantime, understands the necessity of a fruitful alliance with Russia and the Gulf nations of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE in order to resolve current conflicts and identify shared interests. Such a scenario should categorically rule out a conflict of interests between Ankara and Tehran in southern Armenia as well as northern Syria.
Given the favorable geographical location and logistical advantages of modern Turkey, Turkey could definitely prove useful in the BRICS group of nations. It is no coincidence that the BRICS leaders at the Johannesburg summit suggested creating a list of prospective partner countries for the following summit, with Turkey perhaps being one of the strongest contenders.
It should be mentioned that the 15th summit in Johannesburg saw the admission of new members to the BRICS, which proved to be a difficult and complicated task. Brazil first deemed it unnecessary to increase the organization’s membership, stating that doing so may damage the group’s credibility; however, the actual reason may have been the United States’ unfavorable response. However, the addition of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, with their enormous raw material and technological potential, only strengthens the BRICS’s position internationally.
In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the difficulties in agreeing on a final document on the admission of new members. “I would like to note, as it turned out this was challenging work and President Ramaphosa showed unique diplomatic mastery as we negotiated all the positions including when it comes to Brics expansion,” Russia’s leader stated. And accordingly, Russia has become a promoter of the BRICS’s geographic expansion.
The 16th BRICS summit will take place in Kazan, Russia, in 2024. Turkey’s chance of becoming a candidate member of this esteemed international organization is more likely to improve under the Russian leadership. However, a potential candidate will need to collaborate intensively with BRICS members in the upcoming year.
It should be emphasized that, despite the revitalized BRICS having greater economic potential than the G7 nations, the G7, with the exception of Japan, represents the major NATO nations headed by the United States. Until the group integrates the military might of its members, BRICS in this situation does not comprise nations with a similar military and political structure.
Still, BRICS leaders such as Russia, India, and China, have massive military and nuclear capabilities. The process of productive economic and technological collaboration is anticipated to help smooth out the organization’s contradictions and build a shared platform for cooperative actions, with the military area becoming no exception.
In any case, the growth and expansion of the BRICS is a reality of the new international relations architecture, and the strengthening of cooperation among its members with certain specification for each one of them taking into account their geography and potential, will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global order in the new century.
Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”