Home Dating asia Deep Roots: Understanding Afghanistan and Its Centuries of War – Part I

Deep Roots: Understanding Afghanistan and Its Centuries of War – Part I


The United States, like many other Western countries, has a history of great achievements that have broken down barriers for the future. These same stories are also swollen with an array of catastrophic failures that are lessons for the ages.

For centuries, foreign policy has been the cornerstone of America’s importance on the world stage. What was once a predominantly isolationist precedent has now turned into an overly hawkish trend. Whether through direct involvement with the enemy or power struggles through proxy states, the United States has made itself both the friend and the enemy of the nations of the world. Although this is only a tiny part of its history, this particular nation has shot not only the coffers of the United States, but also the chirons of its news channels and the attention of citizens.

Gateway from the Middle East to the rest of Southeast Asia, the region of Afghanistan has been repeatedly conquered and reconquered, dating back to Darius I of Babylonia in the 5th century BC Alexander the Great, Mahmud of Ghazni and Genghis Khan are other famous conquerors who also had their time with the region. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that modern relations began to develop between the hotly contested region and the West.

Prior to its independence at the end of World War I, Afghanistan was embroiled in a series of intense engagements known as the Anglo-Afghan Wars. The three conflicts, spanning 1839-1842, 1878-1880 and mid 1919, were an attempt by the neighboring British to expand their territory beyond India and prevent Russian influence in the region.

With the impending fall of the First French Empire in the early 19th century, Britain saw Russia become its biggest imperialist competitor at a time when control of Central Asia meant economic domination. Already in control of their highly prized and wealth-producing India, Britain sought to strengthen its position against Russian influence infiltrating the region.

“Afghanistan is one of those interesting territories in Central Asia as a transit point between the Middle East,” said Austin Knuppe, professor of political science at USU with marked expertise in Middle East politics. East.

“You think of a country like Iran (formerly Persia) in the west, in the north the former Soviet republics then Russia, then in the south South Asia, in particular India,” he said. he said, “So, as you mentioned in the 19th century – that is, the 1800s – the British and the Russians got into this, what we call a ‘Great Game’ – basically, two empires vying for colonial control.

Of course, the British controlled India – it was the crown of their empire – and they were concerned about Russian encroachment on Afghanistan as it would provide a transit point to India. Dost Mohammad Khan established the Barakzay dynasty and declared himself an “emir” or king of Afghanistan in 1826. Britain, recognizing that the new weak government would not be able to defend itself from Russian annexation, wanted to put a buffer between himself and a growing ally of Russia: Iran. In 1837, the British sent an emissary to the new emir to seek an allied ship against the Russians, but negotiations failed at the table.

At this point, Britain has determined that Khan should be ousted. Shah Shuja, the ruler of Afghanistan from 1803 to 1809, had made it known that he would be a good friend of the idea of ​​British trade routes through Afghanistan if he were to be an Emir again, and the Great Brittany saw Shuja as the solution to their problem. troubles. A few years later, in 1838, British troops entered Afghanistan under the pretext of helping Shuja regain his place on the throne, triggering the First Anglo-Afghan War.

The Anglo-Afghan Combined Army took Afghanistan with minimal trouble and Shuja saw his throne in Kabul return within a year. After spending his exile in British India, however, Shah Shuja began to rule the country in a way that offended many Afghan peoples. They also viewed the strong presence of British forces as a threat to metastasize the British Indian Empire.

Disgruntled rebels and a shifting political tide in the British elections of 1841 resulted in troop withdrawals and loss of funding for the British Indian Empire. With a weakened position and enraged citizens on their hands, the British saw losses of troops and besieged officials as the Afghan people tried to drive them out.

Overwhelmed in numbers and weapons, the British army was completely destroyed, also desecrating the legend of an invincible British army. But even with the departure of the British, things were not settled in Afghanistan. Shuja was assassinated, leaving a throne that no one could handle for long until, finally, Dost Mohammad Khan returned to his place of emir in 1842.

It took nearly half a century for the British to muster the courage to resume relations with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Russian presence in the region and their own desire for Afghanistan had grown dramatically.

“The Russian Empire, like any great power [wants] to do, “said Knuppe,” was concerned about the projection of power into his immediate sphere of influence. And so, historically, [Russia has] still concerned with Central Asia because it is part of its near abroad. And so you have Russian and British competition in the 20th century.

Britain, believing that Russia would ultimately attempt to take India, attempted to re-enter the region. Russia, to Britain’s alarm, had sent an envoy to Afghanistan, but Afghanistan did not allow Britain to send one of its own as a counterweight. Refusing to let their control of the region cease, Britain launched the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878. By early 1879, 40,000 British forces had effortlessly captured much of the country.

Under the assumption of a quick victory, the Afghan leader, Yakub Khan, signed the Treaty of Gandamak which allowed the British to occupy a permanent post in Afghanistan and to control Afghan foreign policy, essentially dismissing the hopes of the Russia to intervene in the region.

Not as strong as the British had expected, Khan’s weak leadership allowed rebellions against the British to rise in Kabul, resulting in the destruction of the British diplomatic mission. A British retaliatory force attempted to retake Kabul, but instead they were driven to Kandahar to rescue other British forces trapped there. In less than 20 days in the height of summer, the 10,000-strong troop marched nearly 300 miles from Kabul to Kandahar in the heat of Afghanistan, recaptured Kandahar, and ended the Second Afghan War in 1880. The The British resolved with the new emir, Abdur Rahman, that Afghanistan would only have relations with Britain as long as the British remained out of the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Almost half a century later, in 1914, the First World War broke out. Afghanistan, a staunch supporter of the Ottoman Empire, was able to maintain a strong policy of isolationism throughout the war under Habibullah Khan’s leadership – until he was killed by anti-assassins. British. Amanullah Khan, his son, became an emir and became an instant enemy of the British by reversing the Treaty of Gandamak, declaring the independence of Afghanistan and invading the northwestern region of India to reclaim the territories disputed west of the Indus. Amanullah surmised that a tired British army, having just left the war front at home, would be too tired to offer resistance, but the British were able to participate in the multitude of skirmishes provoked by the Afghan army.

After a month of failure, Amanullah declared a ceasefire in the summer of 1919. British and Afghan leaders met to sign the Treaty of Rawalpindi, allowing Afghanistan to gain independence and to conduct foreign affairs independently of the British. But, at the end of the treaty, the Afghan rulers also signed a treaty with the Bolshevik regime in Russia, immediately worrying their British neighbors in India for decades to come.

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