Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt join emerging nations group – Times of India

Seeking more political and economic influence in a global system dominated by the United States and Europe, the Brics club of emerging nations agreed Thursday to expand by bringing on six new countries.
The expansion was regarded as a significant victory for the two leading members of the group, increasing China’s political clout and helping to reduce Russia’s isolation. Yet, Russia and China face growing economic headwinds that could undermine the economies of the very nations whose interests they claim to be promoting.
Joining China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa in the group are three members from the Middle East, most notably Saudi Arabia and a fiercely anti-American Iran, a firm backer of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Host South Africa, with long-standing ties to Iran, also supported Iran’s inclusion, but it was an awkward outcome for countries like India and Brazil, leaders of the so-called Global South that want to preserve their freedom of action between Washington and Beijing.
The decisions underlined the odd quality of the grouping, which is heterogenous and has no clear political coherence except in the desire to reshape the current global financial and governing system to one that is more open, more varied and less restrictive – and less subject to U.S. politics and the power of the dollar.
Together, the 11 countries have a population of some 3.7 billion people but comprise five democracies, three authoritarian states, two autocratic monarchies and a theocracy.
Their financial clout is comparatively small, except for China, which dominates the group and pressed hard for expansion. The addition of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provides more financial heft, especially as the group tries to increase the size and influence of its own small development bank.
With the addition as well of Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran, the expansion also bolsters Beijing’s bid to show the growing support for its agenda despite its having alienated many countries in the developed world over its “no-limits partnership” with Russia and its tacit support for the invasion of a sovereign Ukraine.
It remains to be seen whether the changes introduced will have the impact the countries are hoping for. The historical record, said Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term Bric in 2001, is not reassuring.
The meetings are “all about symbolism,” he said, adding, “It’s not clear to me that Bric summits have done anything.”