Saudi Arabia will join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with the initial status of a "dialogue partner." Formed in 2001, the SCO's full members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Iran is expected to become a full member later this year, while other dialogue partners include two more countries that have traditionally been in the U.S. sphere of influence: Qatar and Egypt. Underscoring the group's security component, SCO members will conduct a joint "counter-terrorism exercise" in Russia's Chelyabinsk region -- north of Kazakhstan -- in August. In the latest evidence of major shifts in global power dynamics, the Saudi government has approved the kingdom's partial membership in a Chinese-led economic, political and security bloc.