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BRICS Invites Oil-Rich Nations Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran to Join Bloc

Otis De Marie • August 27, 2023

In a bold move aimed at enhancing its global reach and influence, the BRICS group of developing nations has announced the inclusion of six new countries into its fold, marking a significant expansion of the bloc. The announcement was made by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the annual BRICS summit held in Johannesburg this week.

The three prominent additions, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), hold spots among the world’s top-10 oil-producing nations, adding a new dimension to the economic prowess of the BRICS group. These oil-rich nations are set to join the ranks of the existing BRICS members—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The summit, spanning three days, witnessed discussions centered around the expansion of BRICS membership and its implications for global politics. Spearheaded by China and Russia, the move to bring in new countries aims to challenge the Western-led dominance and establish a more equitable global governance structure. In this context, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized, “We need to act on the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation to bring more countries into the BRICS family, so as to pool our wisdom and strength to make global governance more just and equitable.”

Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s ambassador at large for Asia and BRICS, revealed the significant interest in joining the bloc, with over 40 countries expressing interest and 22 formally requesting membership. Among the new entrants, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia will bring diverse perspectives and regional influence to the table. However, their economic stability varies greatly, with some facing challenges ranging from inflation to debt crises.

The expansion also underscores the growing global reliance on oil, as the newcomers from the Middle East collectively represent three major oil-producing powerhouses. Saudi Arabia, holding the second-largest position in global oil production as of 2022, is poised to contribute significantly to BRICS’ energy discussions. The UAE and Iran, ranked sixth and ninth in oil production respectively, further amplify the bloc’s presence in global energy markets.

Russia, already a formidable energy exporter ranking third globally, adds to BRICS’ energy might. The addition of these oil giants solidifies the bloc’s position with four out of the top 10 global energy exporters in its membership, bolstering its geopolitical influence and strategic significance.

While the expansion brings in economic and energy strength, it also raises discussions within BRICS regarding the criteria for admission. Disagreements have arisen over the number of nations that should be allowed to join and the timeline for their inclusion. Balancing openness and political cohesion has been a central challenge, with the bloc striving to maintain a multilateral stance while avoiding dilution of its influence.

As Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated, “We want BRICS to be a multilateral institution, not an exclusive club.” However, he also acknowledged the need for guidelines to prevent the bloc from becoming a “Tower of Babel.”

With the new additions poised to reshape the geopolitical landscape, the expanded BRICS group is poised to bring fresh perspectives, energy might, and economic diversity to the global stage. As discussions continue, the world watches closely to see how this evolving alliance will shape international affairs in the years to come.

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