Enough of going through country by country. Time to prod the regional organisations. For once these seem to be acting as more than talking shops, and the tectonic plates of regional politics are moving in time with the rise and fall of the three major groupings.
These three are the declinging CIS, the grouping of post-Soviet states which is inexorably declining to a talking-shop, as Russia tries to take advantage of smaller states without having the financial or military power to back up its arrogance.
Then there are the rising powers filling the gap filled by the collapse of CIS. These are the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with China as the driving force, the five Central Asian states as members, and Russia, inside the club but apparently quite weak within it. It seems fairly likely that Iran – currently an observer – will be granted membership in due course.
Then there is GUAM – the name a simple acronym for the four member-states Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. It may be smaller, but it has backing from America and to some extent from the EU, and the members are both converging in their political systems and moving ever-further out of Russia’s sphere of influence.
So what we have is the Western sphere of influence expanding to include the Caucasus, the Chinese sphere of influence extending to cover everything East of the Caspian, and Russia scrabbling to keep its claws in wherever it can.
More details of all three groups is below the cut
##Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The SCO has [been going for 10 years](http://rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/04/9a3c6abe-0332-4481-a295-43c4ac799061.html), but its rise to significance has been much more recent. Right now it feels unstoppable.
Although they haven’t [repeated last years request for the US to abandon its military bases in Central Asia](http://rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/6/4382648F-AC1D-410F-B24D-6FEF45B31F4E.html), the threat remains, and if they did it would be taken serously.
The [potential involvement of Iran in the SCO](http://rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/06/b36fd452-e425-4cb5-a034-cbacd4e72a5f.html) is fascinating. A deal to include Iran, which currently has only observer status, would mean great power for China over oil supplies, a route to the West, and near-encirclement of South Asia.
[Here](http://rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/04/9a3c6abe-0332-4481-a295-43c4ac799061.html) is a short analysis of the history of the organization. From there, it seems the SCO’s big selling point is being an international organisation without human rights written in at every step. When the IMU got going in 1999-2000, the SCO got into the anti-terrorism game. Then when the West started to shun Uzbekistan after the Andijon massacre, the SCO stepped into the void and once again built up its status.
Russia is still part of the SCO, but is hardly the driving force
On paper, it is hard to point to exactly what came out of [June’s SCO summit](http://rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/6/3B631E07-138E-466D-B3BE-30753BA4B03F.html) – but it looks as though there was a great deal of discussion there, and probably some significant back-room deals.
The CIS is dying, and being killed mostly by the arrogance and thoughtlessness of the Russian diplomatic elite. Accustomed to situations where they wield total power over the ‘near abroad’, they seem not to realise that it they make unreasonable demands on CIS states, they will merely shift their attention away.
Georgia recently threatened to leave the CIS. Russian politicians threatened everything they could think of in retalliation, including total trade sanctions, but its quite possible that Geogia will follow through with its plan. In that case, it is possible that they would be followed by some of the other pro-Western CIS states.
As with the SCO, GUAM was a minor player until it was lifted up by other political events. In this case it was the ‘colour revolutions’, the coups bringing a new generation of extremely pro-western leaders into power in Georgia and the Ukraine. Then Russia went for a policy of incomprehensible petty vindictiveness against Georgia, all but pushing it out of its sphere of influence.
In recent weeks, there has even been talk of [GUAM peacekeeping forces](http://today.az/news/politics/26721.html), quite likely as an excuse to kick Russian soldiers out of Georgia.