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Northern Tier


the region comprising the countries of iran and turkey in the middle east and afghanistan and pakistan in central asia; its location on the border of the soviet union made it an area of high interest for u.s. defense planners and their allies during the cold war.

In the early 1950s the Northern Tier assumed strategic significance in Anglo-American plans for defense of the Middle East against an attack that the Western powers assumed the Soviets would launch in a drive toward the Suez Canal. The Western allies intended to arm Turkey and also to prepare Iraq and Syria, neither of which was contiguous with the Soviet Union, to resist invasion. The United States and Britain planned to defer Iran's participation but attempted to convince Egypt to join Western planning for the Middle East Command (1951) and the Middle East Defense Organization (1952).

Egypt's refusal to participate in such regional defense plans brought the schemes to an end; nevertheless, the Western powers still believed that a "Middle East NATO" was possible. In April 1954 the United States signed an arms deal with Iraq and hoped that the bilateral treaty that Turkey and Pakistan signed that month could be expanded to include several Arab states. In 1955 Britain arranged and then joined with Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey in the Baghdad Pact, which had the support of the United States.

see also baghdad pact (1955); central treaty organization (cento); middle east defense organization (medo).


Hahn, Peter L. The United States, Great Britain, and Egypt, 19451956: Strategy and Diplomacy in the Early Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Kuniholm, Bruce Robellet. The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East: Great Power Conflict and Diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Louis, William Roger. The British Empire in the Middle East: 19451951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism. New York; Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1984.

zach levey

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