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Analysis: What do BRICS Invitations Mean for the Middle East?

Saudi Arabia, UAE look to balance relations between east and west, while Iran, Egypt look to benefit financially.

In an era of emerging multipolarity, the BRICS group’s move to expand its membership should come as little surprise – with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region not exempt from a possible changing world order.

BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and is seen as a counterweight to the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Four of the six BRICS invitations, which came on Thursday during the finale of the group’s summit in South Africa, were handed to MENA countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

The enlargement rests on the group’s desire to level out a global playing field it views as rigged against it.

The bloc will soon invite more members chosen for their geopolitical importance and not ideology, said Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the same day, suggesting its MENA selections were also based on increasing the group’s clout.

Balance through BRICS

The UAE has already jumped at the bloc’s offer. Iran and Egypt are expected to accept their invitations as well, likely buoyed by financial interests, analysts said.

Saudi Arabia, however, is still mulling the proposal, but is likely to be on board, as it seeks to balance its relationship with the United States alongside emerging powers like China, analysts have predicted.

According to analysts, the kingdom’s ironclad alliance with the US has already loosened on a number of fronts; its entry into BRICS would be another unravelling – but still far from doing away with ties.

“Riyadh will first gauge the reaction of Washington, and consider any offers from the delegations that [US President Joe] Biden will send to Riyadh, before moving ahead with accepting the invitation,” Sami Hamdi, the managing director at International Interest, a political risk firm focusing on the Middle East, told Al Jazeera.

Still, Saudi Arabia, already a regional leader, also has an ambitious drive to become a heavyweight globally, an ambition for which deeper ties with China are equally as important, according to Michelle Grise, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation.

Source : Aljazeera