by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Egypt was granted the status of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) dialogue partner at the SCO summit held on Sept. 15-16 in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
Some Egyptian experts said that this is "a very important step" for promoting security and social and economic cooperation due to the SCO's active regional and international role.
PROMOTING SECURITY AND EXCHANGE OF INTELLIGENCE
"Since its founding in 2001, the SCO, now with nine full members, three observer countries, and multiple dialogue partners, has been mainly dealing with security cooperation in a broadening form covering all areas, like economic, social, and cultural development," Ali al-Hefny, Egypt's former deputy foreign minister, told Xinhua.
For decades, conflicts, tensions, and growing extremist ideologies have hit the Arab region and the Middle East, affecting regional security, stability and development.
Nourhan el-Sheikh, a professor of international relations at Cairo University, said that the SCO's anti-terrorism agenda almost identically matches Egypt's security stances.
With the new move, Egypt will expand security and anti-terrorism cooperation, and intelligence exchange with SCO members, el-Sheikh added.
SCO INJECTS MORE POSITIVITY INTO DEVELOPMENT
"The SCO encourages development, economic and social cooperation via containing the causes of terrorism and other potential security threats," el-Sheikh added. "No economic development could be achieved without uprooting terrorism."
Meanwhile, Karim Al-Omda, a professor with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, said that "the interest of the SCO in economic and social cooperation to achieve better development gives opportunities to launch and finance large development projects among the member states."
"Egypt will find more opportunities in the framework of the SCO development plan," Al-Omda said.
The step could enhance the means for cooperation within the SCO, like using local currencies in trade and other economic activities, which would increase investments, trade and tourism, the economic expert added.
NON-ALLIANCE, ANTI-POLARIZATION OF SCO BRINGS MUTUAL INTERESTS
Al-Hefny said that as the first country on the African continent to participate in the SCO, Egypt maintains close and friendly relations with almost all SCO countries and values the group's pivotal regional role.
At the latest SCO summit, Iran officially became a full SCO member. China and other SCO members also started the procedure for Belarus' accession, granted Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners, and reached agreement on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners.
Al-Hefny sees that the expansion of the SCO counts mutual benefits for all sides and sends an important message that "the SCO is against polarization and can accommodate everyone."
The Shanghai Spirit -- mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development -- can play a pivotal role in scaling differences and disagreement among its members, he added.
According to al-Hefny, non-intervention in the internal affairs of member states is essential to reinforce multilateralism, international cooperation and solidarity to address global challenges and concerns for common interests, and help accelerate global trade.
The SCO has already become a very important international organization that restructures the international order and makes it more just and pluralistic, he added. ■