Shifting Global Alliances: The Strategic Expansion of BRICS

Published 19 days ago
Opening Day of The 15th BRICS Summit
Delegates take their seats for the BRICS business forum on day one of the BRICS summit at the Sandton Convention Center in the Sandton district of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. Expansion of BRICS membership is top of the agenda for the summit being hosted by South Africa. Photographer: Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The bloc’s recent expansion to include Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could represent a complex and multifaceted shift in global power structures, transcending simplistic views of it as merely a challenge to Western dominance.

In a significant development that could reshape global alliances, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor announced the expansion of the BRICS bloc with the addition of Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This move follows the nations’ acceptance of invitations, extended at last year’s Johannesburg summit.

“With respect to the BRICS confirmations, five out of the six have confirmed,” Pandor stated in a news conference in Pretoria, located in the country’s Gauteng province. This expansion, however, will not include Argentina, who declined membership.

Gustavo de Carvalho, a Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, emphasizes that while this development is significant, it’s not merely a challenge to Western policy but, more, a nuanced expression of an evolving multipolar world order.

Advertisement

“One of the mistakes that we can make when we are assessing BRICS is looking into it through the lens of a kind of anti-Western alliance,” de Carvalho says to FORBES AFRICA.

“These new countries are joining BRICS as part of the process of diversifying foreign policy, of engaging with partners that are really quite important to them,” he adds, citing the strong economic and commercial ties that many of the new members already have with existing members like Russia and China.

De Carvalho also notes that BRICS has not primarily operated as a geopolitical bloc in certain matters.

The new members may signify a diversification in the bloc’s approach to global economic and political issues, reflecting a shift from a confrontational stance to a more collaborative and multi-aligned strategy.

Advertisement

One area of potential future significance is the economic implications, de Carvalho points out. The inclusion of these countries could mean more than just strategic alliances; it could herald increased economic integration and access to the US dollar by countries like China and Russia. The expanded BRICS could create a more robust platform for economic cooperation, potentially influencing the dominance of the US dollar in global trade.

A noteworthy point at Wednesday’s press conference was Argentina’s decision.

“Argentina has written to indicate that they will not act on this successful application by the previous administration to become full members of BRICS,” said Pandor.

The South American nation’s decline of admission was accepted, having previously indicated its stance following the ascension of, now President, Javier Milei in December, who campaigned, heavily, on free-market policies and closer ties with the West.

Advertisement

“One of the things that was interesting when Argentina declined is that their arguments, the official arguments at least, was that they were declining. For now, it [is] a new administration. They still needed to engage in such a discussion,” notes de Carvalho.

The expansion of BRICS should be viewed in the context of a changing global landscape where power is increasingly distributed. The inclusion of Middle Eastern and African nations signifies a move towards a more inclusive and representative global order.

De Carvalho also highlights the role of BRICS in global governance, suggesting the expansion is not just a counter to Western influence but a move to include diverse perspectives from the Global South in global dialogue.

It represents a shift, one that transcends simplistic narratives of power blocks. With the inclusion of these countries, BRICS is poised to potentially redefine its role on the world stage.

Advertisement