The SCO was born at a difficult time, as no sooner was the ink dry on the agreement of June 15th, than the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 occurred and the doors to Central Asia were opened to the US under the fig leaf of NATO respectability.
America’s entry into Afghanistan can only be viewed as a part of US encroachment into the entire Trans-Caspian region with a view to securing the vast oil and gas reserves they contain.
Almost from the onset, the influence of the US Intelligence agencies started to make themselves felt. Tensions in Western China were increased, especially in respect of Tibetan separatists. Pakistan became prey to increased radicalism and instability, Iran came under heavy pressure in respect of an alleged nuclear weapons program, The President of Turkmenistan unexpectedly died, there was an attempted “Colourful Revolution “ in Uzbekistan.
If however, such actions presented an early threat to the SCO, they also provided an immediate focus and test of resolve. As of January 2008, none of the US’s attempts of regime change in the region have met with success and with this failure, America's attempts to secure Oil, Gas and new Pipelines have all come to nothing. Indeed, all that has been achieved has been the erosion of any trust and good will from the smaller SCO states towards the US and the coming together of Russia and Iran in a highly formalized way, which provides a commanding position in the Iranian SCO areas and the Trans-Caspian region in general.
The Afghanistan Challenge
The current strains within NATO now being seen in Afghanistan may well be highlighting some structural problems in the organisation which will be interesting to contrast against that of the SCO.
It has been said of the current division of the EU and NATO that:
”The EU is a "nation" without Armed Forces.”
”NATO is an army without a State.”
It is also worth mentioning that whilst after 60 and 50 years of respective establishment has created deep and well established ties, much of the structures by which these organisations operate (as designated by the respective Treatise of Inception) are products of an earlier time and best described not even as Cold War structures, but post Second World War structures and which primarily reflect the concerns and predispositions of that age.
The SCO is obviously only a few years old and still building those initial links and procedures. It is however, a modern organisation and built with the current geopolitical situation firmly in mind with its key strategic priorities being those of the immediate time.