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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Five Key Insights from the BRICS Expansion

The recent expansion of BRICS to include four West Asian nations, along with two other influential countries, has sparked attention due to the prevailing geopolitical dynamics. This expansion is noteworthy for the geopolitical signals it sends and the potential impact on global relationships.

Disillusionment with the US/West

The addition of Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, and Egypt (alongside Ethiopia and Argentina) to BRICS reflects a shift away from a US-centric worldview. This growing enthusiasm for BRICS in the West Asian region indicates a diminishing reliance on the United States. China’s role in brokering the Saudi-Iran peace deal this year demonstrated waning US influence in the area. This shift can be traced back to events such as the Obama administration’s handling of the Arab Spring and the subsequent shifting US priorities.

Iran’s Reduced Isolation

Iran’s inclusion in BRICS serves as a signal that US-led attempts to isolate the country have not succeeded. Iran’s strong ties with China and Russia, underscored by a comprehensive cooperation program, have elevated its global position. Iran’s membership in BRICS bolsters its narrative of resilience against isolationist efforts. Additionally, Iran’s commitment to local currency-based trade has been bolstered through its BRICS membership.

Geopolitical Significance of Oil-Producing Countries

With five of the top 10 oil-producing countries, BRICS gains further economic and strategic significance. Key oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Brazil are part of the group, along with UAE and Iran. Their collective influence within OPEC and on global oil prices adds to BRICS’ financial weight. This alignment of major oil producers and consumers within BRICS could influence oil production dynamics and pricing.

BRICS as a Multilateral Bloc

BRICS emphasizes its role as a platform for strategic autonomy and multipolarity, rather than being an anti-Western bloc. However, the growing interest in joining BRICS, especially from nations with adversarial relations with the US, underscores the bloc’s geopolitical importance. China and Russia’s influential positions in BRICS contribute to its perception as an alternative to Western-dominated platforms.

Managing Differences and Inner Cohesion

BRICS is often criticized for its lack of cohesion, particularly due to differences between India and China. However, the recent expansion highlights the group’s ability to manage differences and maintain a degree of unity. This cohesion was evident in the admission of new members and the issuance of a joint statement. Despite its challenges, BRICS’ ability to navigate differing perspectives sets it apart from other multilateral forums.

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