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The Suspension of the Baghdad Pact and the Iraqi-Egyptian Rapprochement

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The Suspension of the Baghdad Pact and the Iraqi-Egyptian rapprochement

Information reaching the Communists and their propaganda centres say that the aims behind the British Foreign Secretary's visit to Cairo, Baghdad, Ankara, and Tel Aviv, are the following:


First: To discuss tensions between the Arabs and Israel.


Second: To discuss the Baghdad-Ankara Treaty.


Third: To discuss the disagreement between Egypt and Iraq.


To discuss the solution to the above problems was left to the British Foreign Secretary in his capacity as representative of Western and Baghdad Pact countries (and partly Israel) on one side, and to President Nasser representing Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, on the other. As neutral countries, Lebanon and Jordan would be consulted throughout the negotiations.


The British and Egyptian envoys succeeded in delineating terms for a solution, and the decrease in tensions between the Arabs and Israel is to start with the endorsement of the Johnston Plan, as amended by the Arab countries. This would constitute a first step towards reconciling the two sides.


The issue of the Baghdad Pact: The two envoys admitted that the Pact, for reasons that have been often elucidated, is the main cause of the disagreement between Iraq and Egypt, although it remains a necessary line of defence against Russia.


They also admitted that, save for Iraq, the Arab countries and peoples have rejected the Pact and Lebanon and Jordan remain hesitant about it. The two negotiators agreed to suspend the southern flank of the Baghdad Pact, in other words, limiting it to the northern flank against Russia, removing the pressure on Arab countries to join, and leaving that decision entirely up to them. In return, Egypt would accept to establish a new Arab Defence Charter in which all Arab countries would participate without, however, having to make commitments similar to those Iraq had to make under the Baghdad Pact.


Once these terms were agreed upon, President Nasser took it upon himself to convince Saudi Arabia and Syria to endorse them and hold a leaders' meeting in Cairo.


On his part, the British Prime Minister prevailed upon the Baghdad Pact countries and Israel to endorse the results of his negotiations with Nasser.


The Arab Leaders’ Conference in Egypt kept Lebanon and Jordan abreast of the results of their talks.


In order for the British and Egyptian negotiators to gauge the impact of these decisions on the Arab people, they made them public in a rather sly and covert manner. They did it 'à la British', i.e. having the British Minister in Baghdad announce these terms supposedly as a mediator seeking the approval of the concerned parties, Egypt and Iraq, on them.


Egypt answered that only an Arab country could be asked to mediate but did not deny the premise of Selwyn Lloyd's declaration.


The endorsement will take place when King Hussein, the King of Jordan, designates the President of the Republic of Lebanon, Mr Camille Chamoun, therefore an Arab head of state, as mediator between the parties. The latter would then take the initiative of calling for a high level Arab foreign ministers' meeting to discuss these decisions. As for what was announced about the objectives and decisions adopted at the Arab leaders’ meeting in Cairo, and the announcement regarding Iraq's opposition to them, they are nothing but publicity stunts aimed at keeping the Arab people unaware of what is really happening.

Report on the British Foreign Secretary's visit to the Middle East and the suspension of the Baghdad Pact.


Document Information


Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 8, File 9D/8, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily