By the end of World War II, the world was faced with a new crisis and communist beliefs spread unbelievably. This spread, which began after the victory of the Soviet Union over Germany and creation of leftist communist parties, attracted seven ...
Iran and CENTO Alliance
Niloufar Kasra
By the end of World War II, the world was faced with a new crisis and communist beliefs spread unbelievably. This spread, which began after the victory of the Soviet Union over Germany and creation of leftist communist parties, attracted seven European countries after the war and empowered socialist governments. In France and Italy, communist parties gained much influence and power and the US as the superior power, was compelled to seek a solution especially because the Middle East regions were endangered and the possibility of one of the important regions of the Soviet’s border to drown in the communism maw. Therefore the English government and its old ally, the US thought of enforcing the policy of influence and control barrier againstcommunist beliefs in the long borders of the Soviet and to fight it they pursued the grounds for regional unity and alliance.
These regional unities occurred through defense, political and economic treaties and began work in Europe entitled Atlantic treaty, in Asia as Baghdad treaty and in the Far East as SENTO treaty and so drew a belt around the borders of the Soviet Union.
It must be noted that at that time the Middle East and the Iranians were not yet familiar with the true characteristic of the world devouring US and they were accepted by Iranians due to their support against eviction of the Soviet’s forces from Azerbaijan and some of the statesmen and politicians like Qavam-al-Saltaneh had tried during their reign to decrease the northern (Soviet) and southern (England) neighbors’ oppression and avarice using the US’ presence. Of course the start of the US policy in resistance against the spread of communism in the world can be considered that government’s resistance against the Soviet in evicting Iran. a while later Russia’s greed regarding Turkey’s straits and Greek civil war forced the US to support Europe and act on establishing the North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) in order to stabilize the political situation with its presence in Europe. at the same time with the Atlantic treaty, the thought of establishing a Middle and Far East defense organization was proposed in western circles such that in February 1949 Najm-al-Din Sadegh, Turkey’s foreign minister, stated: “his respective government has studied the continuance and completion of Atlantic defense system through a similar treaty in the Middle East.”
Later, Constantine Tsaldarys, Greek foreign minister, asserted that they agree with signing a treaty between countries of Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and Pakistan. This treaty, which was completed by delivery of modern weapons and arms to Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, led to mutual announcement of the US and England on May 25th 1950 in which the three governments of England, US and France had considered the Middle East defense treaty. In October 1951, at the end of Ankara conference they thought establishment of the Middle East military commandership is useful and they sent notes to the Middle East countries and encouraged them to join the regional treaty but they did not send a note to Iran because at that time conflict over oil between Iran and England had reached its peak and basically participation in military treaties was not in accordance with Dr. Mosadegh’s negative balance policy. The Egyptian government unilaterally annulled its 1936 contract with England as a reaction to this note. The Soviet government sent abrupt notes to the western governments and warned the Middle East governments asking them to avoid participation in military classifications against the Soviet Union.
After the August 19th coup and the fall of Dr. Mosadegh’s national government, John Foster Dallas, the US foreign minister, and Anthony Eden, the English foreign minister, restarted efforts to establish the Middle East defense organization which was to complement the North Atlantic Treaty.
Start of talks regarding Iran’s official incorporation in the Baghdad treaty (CENTO) was simultaneous to Hussein Ala’s premiership. Foster Dallas, Ala’s old friend during his embassage in the US, who had recently been appointed as the US foreign minister, expressed his pleasure from Iran’s incorporation to the treaty in an official visit in Iran and Ala noted that the presence of the US in this treaty and friendship with the US will support Iran against the danger of communism.
Finally on October 22nd 1955, Iran joined the Baghdad treaty, but the US refused to join this treaty for a number of reasons and only sufficed to participating in military committees because they didn’t want to upset Egypt and more importantly, at that time the Middle East was still under exclusive influence of England and this country was inclined to supervise the Baghdad treaty on its own.
Central Treaty Organization
Central Treaty Organization, Cen.T.O. was the collective defense organization of Turkey, Ira, Pakistan and England who was responsible for the region’s joint security against the spread of communism. The US supervised most committees by paying a budget equal to that of England without membership.
This organization included the central council which was held once a year in the capital of one of the member countries headed by the prime minister or the foreign minister of the respective government and handled the various issues regarding the treaty. Of course this council composed of a deputy council which was held every two weeks in the CENTO central secretariat in Ankara and constituted of ministers of the member countries and the US and England Ambassadors. The supreme council or central council consisted of four main committees: military, economic, health, agriculture, anti-vandalism and relations and the aim of all these committees was to strengthen the military section and facilitate their activities. There was also a secretariat which was responsible for maintenance and relations with tither international organizations and this post was only in service for Iran and Abbas-Ali Khal¢atbari held the position. by these establishments, England and the US controlled all vital activities of the region and supervised a vast domain of the Middle East.
People’s General Reaction to the CENTO Treaty in the Middle East
This treaty was not very pleasant among the people of Iran with regard to the struggles during the oil national movement. The liberals and patriots reprimanded this action. Among them, Navab Safavi and the Devotees of Islam group immediately acted against this step and planned the murder of Hussein Ala, then prime minister. Thus a member of the devotees of Islam named Mozafar Zu-al-Qadr was selected to carry out this plan and on November 17th 1955 when Hussein Ala was in Shah’s Mosque attending the funeral ceremony of Sayyed Mostafa Kashani, a parliament representative and the son of Ayatollah Kashani, an attempt was made on his life but the bullet was not shot and the hit man beat Ala with the gun and he was severely injured.
The next day Hussein Ala headed to Iraq with a bandaged head to participate in the Baghdad treaty conference. on the same day, Tehran military commander issued the order of pursuit of the Devotees of Islam and on November 23rd 1955 Sayyed Mojtaba Navab Safavi, the leader of the devotees, and the main members were detained by commanding officers and were trialed and sentenced to death in a military court. Following this, Ayatollah Kashani, the inexhaustible fighter, Dr. Mozafar Baghaei, Ali Zahri, Hussein Maki and Abdul-Qadir were detained on the charge of participating in Razm Ara’s assassination.
During interrogations, Ayatollah Kashani clearly stated that: “I am a completely qualified authority of divine law and I believe that Razm Ara is deserving of death, therefore I issued the order for his death.” a while later the regime released Ayatollah Kashani, Dr. Baghaei and other detainees because the situation was critical.
In Iraq, people’s dissatisfaction with the autocratic regime and membership in the Baghdad treaty was more severe such that this dissatisfaction resulted in revolt and finally a coup on July 14th 1958. Malik Feiz, king of Iraq and any of the country’s authorities were murdered. The monarchy in Iraq was cancelled and a republic was established and the new government of Iraq announced its discharge from the Baghdad treaty. This act pleased Russia but Baghdad treaty was not dissolved and was transferred to Ankara under the name CENTO treaty.
The Soviet’s Reaction towards Iran’s Incorporation in Baghdad Treaty (CENTO)
After Stalin’s death, the Soviet Union’s government followed a peaceful coexistence policy and sent three protesting notes to Iran upon this country’s incorporation to the Baghdad treaty (CENTO) because basically one of the bases of Soviet’s foreign policy was severe opposition with any kind of anti-communism groupings.
Iran’s government replied to these three notes and in an official note reassured he Soviet Union that no country will gain permit to establish missile launch base in Iran and this treaty is only a defense treaty. thus the Soviet Union’s government sent representatives to Iran to negotiate and sign a contract regarding participation in non-violence and finally on December 2nd 1954the mentioned negotiations ended in signing an agreement in solving border issues between Iran and the Soviet Union. Following that agreement 2500 kilometers of mutual border between the two countries was decided on and Iran’s gold was restored.
Changes in the Country’s Defense System
After Iran’s incorporation to the Baghdad treaty, since the equipment and armaments of the member countries must have been the same, extensive changes occurred in Iran army and a new organization supervised and advised by US military advisors was founded. Iran Army establishments changed and five troops were formed instead of the previous armies such that instead of army general staff, land and air and general force staffs were formed and all member countries were obliged to use American arms and weapons in their new armies. To provide access to this equipmentfor the above countries during several courses, the US government provided gratis aids and expensive loans for Iran.
So, on august 24th 1955, Iran army started work with a new organization excerpted from the US military organization. Field marshal Hedayat was appointed as the joint staff chairmanship and major general Hedayat Gilanshah was assigned the chairmanship of the air force staff. Major general Mirjalali became deputy chief of joint staff and major general Ahmad Vosough became minister of war. On the September 7th an office was founded in the army named intelligence office. This office gathered the confidential news of the three forces and delivered them to the chief. Following these changes, on June 23rd 1956 the US gave four Jet airplanes and 30 pieces of 90 mm canon on July 21st from the US military aids and promised military aids to the members of SENTO.
The Nature of CENTO Treaty
Although the CENTO treaty seemed to be a defense treaty among Middle East countries, it was really in line with England’s colonizing goals in the Middle East such that Iran defense line against the Soviet’s probable attack was considered to be Zagros mountain as in the previous governments’ divisions in 1907 and 1911; something which was opposed by Iran from the beginning. clearly the main goal of this division was to maintain the Middle East and Iran oil wells and supplies which were controlled by England and the US. Thus it was clear that this treaty and the activities of its various groups were only in line with the colonial aims of foreign governments and not actually a guarantee of Iran’s independence and integrity. Fereidoon Sanjar, an Iran representative writes in his memoirs about this treaty saying:
          In the very first week of my entry to the military base of treaty in Baghdad I noticed that this treaty is more than anything a political propagandisticorganization and its activity is to hold conferences and councils every month and six months and every year with photos and night parties and cocktail parties. Of course one or two files with the name of plan were prepared which were mostly incomplete information about the Soviet Union’s military power and expanse of its three fold forces. Apart from these no notable file to be presented as defense plan and to be enforced on maps was not presented and it wasn’t clear which defense lines were the treaty forces spread on and how would they coordinate their military operations with each other.
Following the discovery of Alborz oil well near Qom in 1956, which was finally utilized by American experts, Alborz region was also announced as a military region and two battalions guarded the region under major general Ariana’s commandership. After that, the CENTO treaty considered Alborz mountain as the defense and resistance line against possible attack of the Soviet Union.
After the wars between India and Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh, the CENTO treaty was weakened. Soviet’s propaganda against this treaty was effective too. With the discharge of English forces from regions in the east of Suez, including the Persian Gulf in December 1971, attention was once more drawn to the CENTO treaty. A while later, Nixon, the US president announced that from now on the countries in the region must accept the responsibility of their own security and defense. Thus the countries in the region the CNETO treaty’s decline became evident. One month after the Islamic revolution , Iran’s government left the CENTO treaty on March 12th 1979 after 23 years. The CENTO treaty was officially cancelled in April 1979.
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