Recently, I've been wondering, from the 1950s to 1979, there was the Central Treaty Organization, but I don't know why it was named "Central". Do you mean the "center" of the Eurasian Continent?

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    See: Baghdad Pact - Wikipedia: The Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), also known as the Baghdad Pact and subsequently known as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), was a military alliance of the Cold War. It was formed in 24 February 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The alliance was dissolved in 16 March 1979. Feb 11, 2023 at 5:01
  • Thank you for giving a comment. However, I've already looked up that information. I would like to ask you, why is it called "central"? Sorry for my poor English. Feb 11, 2023 at 9:32
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    The 'Near East', later called the 'Middle East', is named from the perspective of Western Europe. The Wikipedia article on the Middle East says The term "Middle East" has led to some confusion over its changing definitions, and has been viewed by some to be discriminatory[2] or too Eurocentric. Maybe that is why the name of the organisation was changed to 'Central'. Feb 11, 2023 at 9:40
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    @瀬川大地 This site prefers questions with some form of previous research with sources. I added that source for the benefit of others, since you made no attempt to explain what Central Treaty Organization is and that it recieved that name only after Iraq in 1958 withdrew from, what until then, was called the Baghdad Pact. All of this should have been included in your question as background information. Feb 11, 2023 at 10:34
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    Please move all the information from the comments into the question.
    – MCW
    Feb 11, 2023 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


The Central part of the naming of the Central Treaty Organization has to do with its association with other anti-communist leagues set up in that same time frame. You can see the association in a State Department publication here:

ORIGIN The Central Treaty Organization CENTO began, as did its earlier regional sister alliances- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO in 1949 and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization SEATO in 1954, as a response of free peoples to the threat from communism. The establishment of the alliance demonstrated the determination of the countries of the northern tier to preserve their independence by resisting Communist aggression or subversive penetration and by working together for stability In addition to membership in CENTO Turkey belongs to NATO and Pakistan is a member of SEATO

So Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) was associated with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) to show the widespread geographic nature of the fight against the spread of communism. The consistent naming style is just there to provide a connection to the other organizations, therefore showing the unity in purpose of the organizations. This similarity in name choice is also noted in the Encyclopedia of the Cold War (emphasis mine):

Consequently, the Pact was renamed the Central Treaty Organization (Cento) on Aug 21, 1959, and its headquarters were removed from Baghdad to the Turkish capital Ankara. This name change highlighted the organizations similarities to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), underscoring its cold war origins, and perhaps further undermining its credibility.

A footnote from another source The Arab Nationalist Advisor: Yusuf Yassin of Saudi Arabia,By Joseph A. Kéchichian, goes as far as pointing out the central positioning of this alliance between NATO and SAETO (emphasis mine):

CENTO was redefined as a conventional military alliance in the Cold War climate of the 1950s, and served as the central link in the chain of strategic defense pacts against the Soviet Union and it allies, established by the Western powers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO).

They might have used Middle Eastern (METO?), but Central has a similar meaning to Middle, and could imply a wider, more expansive, less restrictive membership. It sounds better, is more inclusive, and accented its connection to the other organizations.

  • You hit the nail on the head. It was the central link between NATO and SEATO. This was a tactic of the 'western' forces to enclose the USSR with friendly countries. This is why the war in Afghanistan from '79-'89 was so important to both sides (the USSR and the US). The west was worried the USSR would move into Iran and/or Pakistan after breaking them out from their near total blockade. This is why the CIA exerted so much time, money, and effort to help the Afghans. Feb 15, 2023 at 21:15

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