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CENTO (Baghdad Pact)


Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) earlier Middle East Treaty Organization, or Baghdad Pact Organization Mutual Security Organization dating from 1955 to 1979 and contained of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and the Britain. Turkey and Iraq are founding initiators who laid the foundation of the Baghdad Pact for mutual defense and security that was signed on 26 February 1955. Turkey and Iraq invited Pakistan to join but Pakistan was not willing and not enthusiastic to do so without the participation of United States. But pressure from Britain and United States was adequate stimulus for Pakistan to sign the Baghdad Pact on 23 September 1955 along with Britain and Iran. United States was unwilling due to the treaty in the incident of a war involving Israel and the Arab states. Although U.S. functioned for treaty as unofficial observer, the United States signed individual agreements with each of the countries in this Pact.


Indeed, America actively contributed in the market conducted by the various countries of the pact, but the lack of official U.S. participation weakened the chances to attract the other countries. In 1958, Iraq faced the revolution which further caused the broke up of this Pact between Iraq and the other countries. The Baghdad Pact original name was Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) replaced by the name of Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) after the withdrawal of Iraq. After the extraction of Iraq from the Baghdad Pact, CENTO moved its headquarter to Turkey (Ankara).


Like North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), CENTO tried the nations to mutual collaboration and protection as well as non-intervention in each other’s internal affairs. Its goal was to seize the Soviet Union (USSR) by having a band of powerful states along the USSR’s South Western frontier.  Similarly, it was known as “Northern Tier” to prevent Soviet involvement into Middle East. Unlike NATO, CENTO did not have a collective military command organization, and not many U.S. or UK military bases established in respective member countries.


There were different objectives regarding this Pact among the participating countries. The Iraq considered this Pact as a justification of her source of power and to demonstrate her loyalty to the West as well as broke diplomatic relations with Moscow in January 1955. For Pakistan, the Pact was expected to balance relations with India and help it to get benefit from Western economic bloc. So for Iran is concerned, having abandoned its practice of third-power policy and having overlooked Prime Minister Mosaddeq’s research with a neutralist attitude, wished to align itself with the West.  Despite the unquestionable sense of Soviet and Communist danger, he saw an important opportunity in the alliance for the protection of his government. United States was not joined this Pact but she remained in touch with it because this Pact was happened at the time of Cold War and U.S. wanted to rout the Communism ( USSR).  UK was also wanted to roll back the influence of USSR in the Middle East and wanted the hegemony in this region. Formed at the will of Britain and the United States, the Central Treaty Organization was proposed to counter the threat of Soviet expansion into big Middle East oil producing regions.


There are following developments in the Middle East in this period that weakened the Pact. In 1956, Egyptian leader Jamal Abdel Nasir took the control of Suez Canal, an important international water-channel. Israel replied by invading the Sinai Peninsula, and British and French forces interfered. The result of this incident was very deep because the loss of British prestige in the region, which in turn dented its place of leadership in Baghdad Pact. Like other series of events in 1958, including an Egyptian-Syrian union, an Iraqi revolution, and civil unjust in Lebanon weakened regional stability. In response to these changes, the United States raised the 1957 “Eisenhower Doctrine” as an explanation for intervening in Lebanon. The members of the Baghdad Pact except Iraq acclaimed the U.S. intervention. These were the events which contributed in the end of CENTO.


However, the main purpose of CENTO was to rout the influence of USSR, Communist incursions, and collective defense and security; but CENTO never actually provided its members guaranteed collective defense and security goals. CENTO proved not fruitful with reference to Pakistan because neither in 1965 nor in 1971 did CENTO consider rendering support to Pakistan while Pakistan had joined it to find an equalizer against India. The South Asia and Middle East became very unstable and weak regions during the 1960s with the ongoing Indo-Pakistani Wars and the Arab-Israeli conflict. CENTO was reluctant to get deeply involved in either dispute. In 1965 and in 1971, Pakistan tried fruitlessly to get support in its wars with India from CENTO, but this was rejected because it was viewed that CENTO was aimed at containing the USSR instead of India.


The Iranian revolution brought the end of the organization in 1979 along with Iran, Pakistan also left CENTO.  Spontaneous withdrawal of Pakistan and Iran in 1979 caused the collapsed of Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). In a nut shell, it is crystal clear that the Baghdad Pact lead to CENTO was for the deadlock of USSR in Middle East but resultantly it was in vain. Every country had their respective national interests regarding CENTO but they did not achieve their goals and objectives collectively.

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