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Baghdad Pact (1955)


Anti-Soviet security pact sponsored by Britain and the United States.

The Baghdad Pact formally came into existence in 1955; it was an exemplary Cold War agreement reflecting the priority the Eisenhower administration gave to containment of the Soviet Union through collective security agreements. The member statesTurkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Britainformed a bulwark of the "northern tier" states against the Soviet Union. The pact's headquarters were in Baghdad.

The pact's most forceful Middle Eastern proponent, Nuri al-Saʿid of Iraq, championed the agreement because it tied Iraq more closely to the West and provided the Iraqi leader with potential leverage against his chief rival, Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser viewed the Baghdad Pact, with its British membership, as another manifestation of Western imperialism, and he used all the means at his disposal to persuade other Arab states not to join. In this he was successfulLebanon, Syria, and Jordan refused offers of membership.

The United States, although heavily involved in the various security guarantees, did not become an official member. Nonetheless, the security agreement fit U.S. strategic interests in the region. Through Turkey, the Middle East was linked to NATO, and through Pakistan, to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). U.S. influence continued through guarantees of military aid and diplomatic support.

The Iraqi revolution in July 1958 led to the deaths of the monarch and Nuri al-Saʿid. Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact in 1959 and denounced it as a vestige of Western imperialism. The group was then renamed the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO).

see also nasser, gamal abdel.


Jankowski, James. Nasser's Egypt, Arab Nationalism, and the United Arab Republic. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Spiegel, Steven L. The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America's Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Zachary Karabell

Updated by William L. Cleveland

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