BRICS Expansion: A New World Order Or The Same Old Game? – OpEd


In a historic South Africa BRICS summit move, BRICS – the association of five major emerging economies, has extended invitations to six more nations: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the UAE, and Argentina. While some laud this expansion as a step towards creating a multipolar world, others are concerned that it might merely perpetuate the old structures of power and dominance, albeit with new actors.

Breaking the Western Hegemony? 

The invitation to these six nations signifies BRICS’s intent to expand its global footprint. With the inclusion of these countries, BRICS could challenge the long-standing economic and political dominance of the West. The combined GDP, natural resources, and human capital of these 11 countries could provide a robust counterbalance to G7 nations.  Moreover, by including a diverse set of nations – from South America’s Argentina to Middle Eastern giants like Saudi Arabia and Iran.  BRICS demonstrates its inclination to be truly representative of the emerging world, thereby challenging the post-colonial world order.

The Specter of Colonialism: This expansion does not automatically equate to an end of colonial practices or dominance. Some critics argue that BRICS countries, particularly China, have displayed neo-colonial tendencies in their investment and development strategies, especially in Africa. For instance, China’s significant investment in African infrastructure is often seen through the lens of resource extraction and dominance rather than mutual growth.  In light of this, the inclusion of Ethiopia could be viewed with skepticism. Will Ethiopia, rich in history and resources, become an equal partner in this bloc, or will it be subjected to the same quasi-colonial dynamics that many African nations experienced with the West?

The Potential for Change: Yet, there’s also hope. If BRICS, with its expanded membership, can prioritize principles of mutual respect, equitable growth, and true partnership, it can indeed herald a new era. This bloc could advocate for policies that break away from perpetual warfare, environmental degradation, and the exploitation of the global South.  But this requires not just a shift in policy but a mobilization of global citizenry, particularly in the global North. Citizens worldwide need to demand that their governments, whether part of BRICS or not, move away from outdated paradigms of colonialism and power play.

The expansion of BRICS is undoubtedly a watershed moment in global geopolitics. However, whether it brings about a truly new world order or merely a reshuffling of power dynamics remains to be seen. As the bloc grows, the world watches with bated breath, hoping that these emerging powers will champion an era of peace, cooperation, and equitable growth.

One cannot overlook the significant geopolitical implications of this expansion. The inclusion of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, traditionally viewed as regional adversaries, into the same bloc is unprecedented. How these nations negotiate their regional tensions within the BRICS framework will be crucial. Furthermore, the expansion might also serve as a counterweight to the growing influence of Western alliances, such as NATO.

With Argentina and the UAE coming into the fold, the bloc not only increases its raw resources and energy capital but also gains significant market potential. Argentina, with its agricultural strength, and the UAE, with its financial and trade hubs, can offer the expanded BRICS diverse economic advantages. This integration could challenge the economic dominance of Western institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The inclusion of nations from varied cultural backgrounds also hints at a potential boost in cultural exchanges. With film, art, music, and education serving as soft power tools, BRICS has an opportunity to shape global narratives. Bollywood films, Chinese art, Russian literature, Argentine tango, and Middle Eastern culinary delights could merge and intertwine, creating a cultural tapestry that reflects a truly global perspective.

The Challenge Ahead

However, growth often comes with its own set of challenges. As the bloc expands, BRICS will have to navigate the differing political systems, regional tensions, and economic disparities among its members. It’s essential for the bloc to establish robust mechanisms for conflict resolution and consensus building.

Beyond governments and geopolitics, the role of civil society in shaping the direction of this expanded BRICS cannot be overstated. Grassroots movements, NGOs, and the general public have a pivotal role to play. They must hold their governments accountable, ensuring that the BRICS alliance doesn’t perpetuate the same mistakes of past global alliances.

A Hopeful Future?

The BRICS expansion represents a momentous shift in global politics. Its potential to reshape the world order is immense, but so are the challenges it faces. It remains to be seen if BRICS will rise to the occasion, embracing its enhanced role with responsibility and vision, or if it will fall into the trappings of power politics. The world watches with hope and caution, anticipating the next steps of this global juggernaut.

Ismail D. Osman

Ismail D. Osman is a Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) – Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and Geopolitical focusing on governance and security. You can reach him [email protected] @osmando

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