The Russian Foreign Ministry says that Israel, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries would like to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SOC), which was founded by Russia and China, among others.
“In our portfolio today we have applications from Israel, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and masses of other countries that want to join the SOC’s activity in one way or another, in one capacity or another,” said Russian special presidential representative Bakhtier Khakimov, as cited by RIA Novosti.
Founded in 2011 by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, one of the organization’s primary goals is to establish favorable conditions for trade and investment. India and Pakistan have also become members of the organization. The SOC also has a list of “observer states” and “dialog partners”.
Russian experts see the SOC as a counterweight to the NATO military and political bloc, which has led several to call the organization the “eastern” or “Russian NATO”.
Interestingly, the SOC’s Russian-language page on Wikipedia states that Israel has requested to participate in the organization as an observer state. However, neither the English nor the Hebrew versions of the page confirm this. The Israeli media is also silent on the topic.