Baghdad Pact

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A U.S.-sponsored Cold War cooperation accord, the Baghdad Pact was signed on 4 February 1955 at Baghdad between Iraq and Turkey, later joined by other states, such as Great Britain, on 4 April; Pakistan, on 1 July; and Iran, on 23 October. The resulting security organization, officially instituted 15 April 1955, was called the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO). The Baghdad Pact was preceded by the Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO), created in 1950 as the "supreme allied command in the Middle East" and comprising the United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey. This organization eventually failed because of the refusal of Egypt to join. MEDO was headquartered in the Suez Canal Zone, then controlled by Britain; later, President Gamal Abdel Nasser was determined to keep Egypt nonaligned in the Cold War. A U.S.-Pakistani defense accord had been signed in May 1950, and Turkey had joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in May 1951. After the disintegration of MEDO, the United States turned toward Iraq and Turkey, but was unable to obtain the adhesion of Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan. A bilateral accord was signed on 2 April 1954 between Turkey and Pakistan, and the Baghdad Pact followed the next year.

On 16 April 1955 the Soviet Union published a communiqué denouncing the Baghdad Pact, which it deemed "aggressive." On 27 September, the Soviet Union, with Czechoslovakia as intermediary, decided to deliver Soviet armament to Egypt. On 11 February 1957, the Soviet Union shocked the United Nations General Assembly by insisting on a debate on the "danger to peace posed by the U.S. initiative in its foreign policy in the Middle East." On 7 March, the U.S. Congress gave President Dwight D. Eisenhower the right to "use the armed forces" on behalf of any Middle East nation which "asked for help against armed aggression from a country controlled by international Communism." On 19 June, meeting in Ankara, the Iraqi, Iranian, and Turkish prime ministers agreed on a statement that "the policy of President Eisenhower towards the Middle East comports a recognition of the danger posed by Communist aggression and subversion in the area." On 14 July 1958, a coup d'état having overthrown the Iraqi monarchy, the previous accords were rejected by the new government. On 21 August, the United Nations General Assembly, acting on a proposal of countries belonging to the Arab League, passed a resolution stating that the Middle East should not become part of the quarrel between the United States and the Soviet Union. In March 1959 Iraq formally withdrew from the Baghdad Pact; METO was formally replaced on 19 August 1959 by the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). Iran repudiated CENTO after the Islamic Revolution, withdrawing in March 1979; Pakistan also withdrew, and the organization was dissolved in September of that year.

SEE ALSO Middle East Defense Organization.