The Central Treaty Organization (also referred to as CENTO, original name was Middle East Treaty Organization or METO, also known as the Baghdad Pact) was adopted in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. It was dissolved in 1979.
U.S. pressure and promises of military and economic largesse were key in the negotiations leading to the agreement, the United States could not initially participate "for purely technical reasons of budgeting procedures. Some saw the Pact as an attempt by the British to retain influence in the Middle East as a substitute for the loss of their empire in India. In 1958, the United States joined the military committee of the alliance. It is generally viewed as one of the least successful of the Cold War alliances. The organization's headquarters were initially located in Baghdad (Iraq) 1955–1958 and Ankara (Turkey) 1958–1979.
Modeled after the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), CENTO committed the nations to mutual cooperation and protection, as well as non-intervention in each other's affairs. Its goal was to contain the Soviet Union by having a line of strong states along the USSR's southwestern frontier. Unlike NATO, CENTO did not have a unified military command structure, nor were many U.S. or UK military bases established in member countries, although the U.S. had communications and electronic intelligence facilities in Iran, and operated U-2 intelligence flights over the U.S.S.R. from bases in Pakistan. The United Kingdom had access to facilities in Pakistan and Iraq at various times while the treaty was in effect. In addition, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to permit American access to Turkish bases, but this was done under the auspices of NATO.
On July 14, 1958, the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in a military coup. The new government was led by General Abdul Karim Qasim who withdrew from the Baghdad Pact, opened diplomatic relations with Soviet Union and adopted a non-aligned stance; Iraq quit the organization shortly thereafter. The organization dropped the Baghdad Pact moniker in favor of CENTO at that time.
The Middle East and South Asia became extremely volatile areas during the 1960s with the ongoing Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Indo-Pakistani Wars. CENTO was unwilling to get deeply involved in either dispute. In 1965 and 1971, Pakistan tried unsuccessfully to get assistance in its wars with India through CENTO, but this was rejected under the idea that CENTO was aimed at containing the U.S.S.R., not India. CENTO did little to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence to non-member states in the area. Whatever containment value the pact might have had was lost when the Soviets 'leap-frogged' the member states, establishing close military and political relationships with governments in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Indeed, by 1970, the U.S.S.R. had deployed over 20,000 troops to Egypt, and had established naval bases in Syria, Somalia, and P.D.R. Yemen.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 spelled the end of the organization. However, in reality, it had been as good as finished after 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, leading the United Kingdom to withdraw forces that had been earmarked to the alliance. With the fall of the Iranian monarchy, whatever remaining rationale for the organization was lost. Future U.S. and British defense agreements with regional countries — such as Pakistan, Egypt, and the Gulf States — were conducted bilaterally.
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