Few paleoclimate records exist to assess the central Middle East’s response to natural forcing beyond the instrumental record. Here we present a multi-proxy stalagmite-based climate reconstruction from Iran’s semi-arid northeast that spans 100-70 thousand years before present(ka). During severe cold (stadial) events in the North Atlantic at ≈88, 77, and 73 ka, stalagmite trace-element data indicate anomalously dry periods at this location. Stadial event increases in the stalagmite oxygen isotopes mirror those in a published Iranian stalagmite 800 km to the west. A global climate model simulates drying across the Middle East region in response to stadial event forcing, in agreement with oxygen isotope enrichments in both Iranian records, caused by a smaller fractional loss of moisture on the trajectory upstream. The paleoproxies and model experiments are consistent in indicating a drier Middle East climate during the cold North Atlantic stadials.