The New Cold War And The Rebirth Of The Baghdad Pact – Analysis


By Alp Sevimlisoy

As one glances upon developments during the early stages of the Cold War, one of the most effective structures in intelligence and military cooperation was once referred to as the Baghdad Pact. Formed in 1955, and also known as the Middle East Treaty Organization, it came to fruition due to a need to counter the machinations of the Soviet Union which had given birth to factions such as the Non-Aligned movement of nations headed by General Gamal Abdel Nasser. This led the Western alliance to band together and bring countries under a common alliance framework capable of withstanding Comintern expansion, with the ‘endgame’ being to ensure a Western-orientated, NATO-aligned future to the Middle East.

The United States, via President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, spearheaded the formation of the Baghdad Pact. The initiative garnered further support from Howard MacMillan of the United Kingdom and Adnan Menderes of the Turkish Republic, along with allies like the Shah’s Kingdom of Iran, Prime Minister Nuri’s Iraq, and President Mirza of Pakistan. The State of Israel was also a valued external supporter of the organization via Prime Minister Moshe Sharrat and David Ben-Gurion.

Ultimately, the departure of Prime Minister Nuri from Iraq’s leadership caused the country to withdraw from the alliance and, despite the Baghdad Pact’s successes in countering Communism, the alliance came to an end in 1979 amid a rash of regional conflicts that took center stage vis-à-vis the USSR’s declining global footprint.   Today, amid a backdrop of worsening sectarianism in the Middle East, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the renewed presence of GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) in Libya & Syria, along with the need for us within the NATO alliance to improve our strategic nuclear deterrence and counter similar moves by foes to the rules-based international orders, more alliances akin to the Middle East Treaty Organization must be pursued as an imperative in contemporary defense thinking.

The Abraham Accords, a successful foreign policy initiative of the Trump administration that has subsequently been promoted by the Biden administration, has seen Gulf nations and Israel move closer on multiple fronts, ranging from commerce to security, and all in the face of a mutual threat represented by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Further,  we are now witnessing a ‘blossoming’ of ties between the Turkish Republic and the State of Israel, culminating in a military alliance which shall focus on the defense of the Mediterranean – a theater that  is crucial for US national security with regard to NATO and is also integral to energy security, with Mediterranean natural gas reserves being developed through Turkish-Israeli cooperation, thus helping to stabilize global energy markets and forestall a new energy crisis.

A modern equivalent to the Baghdad Pact, one which incorporates the United States, the Turkish Republic, the United Kingdom, the State of Israel and Egypt will be paramount in ensuring a stable and secure Mediterranean. It will bolster energy security in the face of continued price pressures affecting populations globally, and it will also improve national security considerations whilst rallying nations closer to NATO against a backdrop of declining Russian influence and a rising People’s Republic of China.

Utilizing capital located in the Gulf to provide the necessary economic clout and coupling this with the military prowess of the Turkish Armed Forces, as well as the global capabilities of the US, the United Kingdom would be able to re-define its world standing following Brexit with regard to its overseas policy, and Israel would be able to elevate the existing Abraham Accords from a proximal alliance framework to a pan-regional agreement, bringing Egypt into the fray also as President Sisi seeks to restore his nation to its ‘factory settings,’ emulating the success of President Anwar Sadat, who rebuilt Egypt to its most successful military and socio-economic era whilst reaching a concord with the State of Israel during his term in office.

The creation of a “Five-Eyes” equivalent (the intelligence alliance comprising of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand) would also enable the aforementioned member nations to counter mutual internal threats as well as prioritize combating attempts by both Russia and China to disrupt the rules-based global order. This very same intelligence cooperation would be key with regard to overseeing the strategic placement of US hypersonic weaponry via a separate NATO-orientated mechanism involving the Turkish Republic, and the placement of hypersonic missiles together with tactical nuclear capability at Incirlik Air Base. The introduction of an XKeyscore equivalent with ‘deep dive’ capabilities as well as (with regard to domestic and overseas surveillance programs) amongst these allies would be imperative in ensuring a common systematic framework capable of determining threats to both national and regional unity on an intelligence level, which can then be pre-emptively identified and countered thus ensuring that this alliance has the necessary countermeasures to ward off attempts by the Kremlin and Beijing to use local citizens to subvert intra-alliance unity.

As the world keenly awaits policy proposals directly at the global level to solve both energy orientated issues as well as topics relating to defense policy and national security, the answer may likely lie in the creation of region-specific pacts that are more mobile in policy maneuverability and have further capability with regard to executing key policies. Success will first come at the local level, and then resonate regionally in terms of shared objectives, and eventually throughout the world; for as Ataturk, the Founding Father of modern Turkey once said: “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of

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