Fyodor Lukyanov Writes, Saudi Interest in BRICS Is a Harbinger of New World Economic System
Oct. 23, 2022 (EIRNS)—The West’s gamble to split the world into two geopolitical camps has pushed the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) grouping beyond a “fuzzy” discussion group and into the strategic role of building a new world economic arrangement, free of the financial constraints of the EU and of Washington. Such is the conclusion of a provocative and refreshing analysis in RT, on “The Possibility of Saudi Arabia Joining the BRICS Shows the World Is Moving On from Western Dominance,” by the chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Fyodor Lukyanov. He also serves as the Research Director for the famous Valdai Club and is the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs.
Lukyanov first cites the Oct. 16 report by South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, during his two-day visit, of Saudi Arabia’s intention to join the BRICS, as told to him by his host, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Since Argentina and Iran are already applying, the “excitement around BRICS is a sign of the changes taking place in the world.” Lukyanov maintains that before the attempted isolation of Russia, the BRICS was an interesting forum, but not any more, as “ideas to turn the group into a formalized counterbalance to the G7 did not resonate, because links to the West were crucial for all members.”
He continued, aside from being far apart and very different from each other, the countries were too dependent upon their individual relationship with the U.S. Yet they always had a principled commitment to sovereignty. It is increasingly clear that the West is not allowing that, by their “join us against Russia or else” mode. Hence:
“The events of 2022, initiated by Moscow, have clearly divided the world into a Western part that rallies against Russia, while others take a wait-and-see approach. The West used the entire arsenal of pressure at its disposal to punish Moscow and demonstrate how disobedience is punished.
“The result was quite unexpected. All the other countries, especially the big BRICS states or those claiming a role in the world of their own, not only distanced themselves from joining the Western campaign but outright rejected it, despite the fact that such a stance carries the risk of repercussions from the U.S. and its allies.
“Of course, this is not a matter of supporting Russia’s actions, but rather of rejecting forms of external pressure. And since this is systemic in nature and related to the peculiarities of the world order, ways to counter it require a change in the latter.
“This is where it became clear that BRICS has considerable potential. It might be a rather fuzzy grouping, but it’s better prepared than anything else for those interested in alternative schemes of international order. The aforementioned full sovereignty (political and economic) is a prerequisite for these options.
“Thus, participation in BRICS becomes a sign of belonging to a world that is emerging beyond established Western dominance. It does not necessarily have to be about confrontation. It is much more valuable to be able to bypass Western institutions and reduce the risk of interaction with them. For example, by building parallel ways of conducting financial, economic, and trade relations without relying on U.S. or EU-controlled instruments.
“Riyadh’s desire to join is quite remarkable. Of course, a country with control over significant material resources and the ability to regulate global pricing can afford independent behavior and choose comfortable partners who do not impose a series of conditions on interaction. A centralized international system, led by a hegemon, is bound to end anyway. This will happen no matter how the Ukraine conflict ends. And, thus, a diversity of formats will be in high demand. The new circumstances will open up prospects for BRICS.”
Lukyanov’s somewhat cynical analysis ignores the history of the BRICS, in favor of a Goldman Sachs single detail. O’Neill did absolutely nothing to create the BRICS, and far from being a “fuzzy” entity with no formal existence, it began holding heads of state and government summits in 2009, brought in South Africa (making it the BRICS) in 2010, and formed its New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement in Fortaleza, Brazil at its 2014 summit. At its 2018 summit in Johannesburg, South Africa invited the heads of state from every African government that headed a continental agency at the time, in its Outreach: Rwanda (then chairing the African Union), Senegal, Gabon, Uganda, Ethiopia, Togo, Zambia, Namibia, Angola, and the African Union Commission Chairman. At the same time, the BRICS-Plus at that summit included: Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, Jamaica, and Turkey, and the UN Secretary General. On June 24, 2022, the BRICS-Plus summit had expanded to heads of state and government from 13 countries, plus the 5 BRICS members: Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Malaysia, and Thailand.
While Lukyanov is not wrong that the breakout of BRICS organization “shows the world moving on from Western dominance”—or more accurately, the Western economic collapse—it were more appropriate to date the idea from Yevgeny Primakov’s 1998 concept for the Russia-India-China (RIC) “strategic triangle,” whence the BRICS developed by 2009-2010.