The Great Game
"The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the nineteenth century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and Southern Asia. Russia was fearful of British commercial and military inroads into Central Asia, Britain was fearful of Russia adding "the jewel in the crown", India, to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia; this resulted in the constant threat of war between the two empires. Britain made it a high priority to protect all the approaches to India, the "great game" is how the British did this in terms of a possible Russian threat. Historians with access to the archives have concluded that Russia had no plans involving India, as the Russians stated; the Great Game began on 12 January 1830 when Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control for India, tasked Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General, to establish a new trade route to the Emirate of Bukhara.
Britain intended to gain control over the Emirate of Afghanistan and make it a protectorate, to use the Ottoman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Khanate of Khiva, the Emirate of Bukhara as buffer states between both empires. This would protect India and key British sea trade routes by stopping Russia from gaining a port on the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean. Russia proposed Afghanistan as the neutral zone; the results included the failed First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838, the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845, the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1848, the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878, the annexation of Khiva and Kokand by Russia. Historians consider the end of the Great Game to be 10 September 1895 signing of the Pamir Boundary Commission protocols, when the border between Afghanistan and the Russian empire was defined; the 1901 novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling made the term popular and introduced the new implication of great power rivalry. It became more popular after the 1979 advent of the Soviet–Afghan War.
The term "the Great Game" was used well before the 19th century and was associated with games of risk, such as cards and dice. The French equivalent Le grand jeu dates back to at least 1585 and is associated with meanings of risk and deception. In the historical sense the term dated from the mid-19th century. "The Great Game" is attributed to Captain Arthur Conolly, appointed as a political officer. In July 1840, in correspondence to Major Henry Rawlinson, appointed as the new political agent in Kandahar, Conolly wrote, "You've a great game, a noble game, before you." Conolly believed that Rawlinson's new post gave him the opportunity to advance humanitarianism in Afghanistan, summed up his hopes: If the British Government would only play the grand game — help Russia cordially to all that she has a right to expect — shake hands with Persia — get her all possible amends from Oosbegs — force the Bukhara Amir to be just to us, the Afghans, other Oosbeg states, his own kingdom — but why go on. InshAllah!
The expediency, nay the necessity of them will be seen, we shall play the noble part that the first Christian nation of the world ought to fill. It was introduced into mainstream by the British novelist Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim, it was first used academically by Professor H. W. C. Davis in a presentation titled The Great Game in Asia on 10 November 1926; the use of the term "The Great Game" to describe Anglo-Russian rivalry in Central Asia became common only after the Second World War. At the start of the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was ruled in part by independent princely states and in part by the company rule of the British East India Company. During the 19th century a political and diplomatic confrontation developed between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan which became known as "The Great Game". Russia was fearful of British commercial and military inroads into Central Asia, Britain was fearful of Russia adding the "jewel in the crown", India, to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia.
This resulted in the constant threat of war between the two empires. If Russia were to gain control of the Emirate of Afghanistan, it might be used as a staging post for a Russian invasion of India. Napoleon had proposed a joint Franco-Russian invasion of India to his Imperial Majesty Paul I of Russia. In 1801 Paul, fearing a future action by the British against Russia and her allies in Europe, decided to make the first move towards where he believed the British Empire was weakest, he wrote to the Ataman of the Don Cossacks Troops, Cavalry General Vasily Petrovich Orlov, directing him to march to Orenburg, conquer the Central Asian Khanates, from there invade India. Paul was assassinated in the same year and the invasion was terminated. Napoleon tried to persuade Tsar Alexander I of Russia, to invade India. In 1807, Napoleon dispatched General Claude Matthieu, Count Gardane on a French military mission to Persia, with the intention of persuading Russia to invade India. In response, Britain sent its own diplomatic missions in 1808, with military advisers, to Persia and Afghanistan under the capable Mountstuart Elphinstone, averting the French and possible Russian threat.
However, Britain was left with concerns about being able to defend India. In 1810, Lieutenant Henry Pottinger and Captain Charles Christie undertook an expedition from Nushki to Isfahan disguised as Muslims; the expedition was funded by the East India Company and was to map and research the regions of "Beloochistan" and Persia because of concerns about India being invaded
Second Anglo-Afghan War
The Second Anglo-Afghan War was a military conflict fought between the British Raj and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1878 to 1880, when the latter was ruled by Sher Ali Khan of the Barakzai dynasty, the son of former Emir Dost Mohammad Khan. This was the second time; the war ended after a series of military victories by the British against various Afghan forces. The Afghans agreed to let the British attain all of their geopolitical objectives from the Treaty of Gandamak. Most of the British and Indian soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan; the Afghan tribes were permitted to maintain internal rule and local customs but they had to cede control of the area's foreign relations to the British, who, in turn, guaranteed the area's freedom from foreign military domination as a buffer between the British Raj and the Russian Empire. Afghanistan officially ceded various border territories to the British empire. After tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended with the June 1878 Congress of Berlin, Russia turned its attention to Central Asia.
That same summer, Russia sent an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul. Sher Ali Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, tried unsuccessfully to keep them out. Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on 22 July 1878, on 14 August, the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission too; the Amir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain, but threatened to stop it if it were dispatched. Lord Lytton, the viceroy of India, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War. A British force of about 50,000 fighting men Indians, was distributed into military columns which penetrated Afghanistan at three different points. An alarmed Sher Ali attempted to appeal in person to the Russian Tsar for assistance, but unable to do so, he returned to Mazar-i-Sharif, where he died on 21 February 1879. With British forces occupying much of the country, Sher Ali's son and successor, Mohammad Yaqub Khan, signed the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879 to prevent a British invasion of the rest of the country.
According to this agreement and in return for an annual subsidy and vague assurances of assistance in case of foreign aggression, Yaqub relinquished control of Afghan foreign affairs to Britain. British representatives were installed in Kabul and other locations, British control was extended to the Khyber and Michni passes, Afghanistan ceded various North-West Frontier Province areas and Quetta to Britain; the British Army withdrew. However, on 3 September 1879 an uprising in Kabul led to the slaughter of Sir Louis Cavagnari, the British representative, along with his guards, staff – provoking the next phase of the Second Afghan War. Major General Sir Frederick Roberts led the Kabul Field Force over the Shutargardan Pass into central Afghanistan, defeated the Afghan Army at Charasiab on 6 October 1879, occupied Kabul two days later. Ghazi Mohammad Jan Khan Wardak, a force of 10,000 Afghans, staged an uprising and attacked British forces near Kabul in the Siege of the Sherpur Cantonment in December 1879.
Despite besieging the British garrison there, he failed to maintain the Siege of Sherpur, instead shifting focus to Roberts' force, this resulted in the collapse of this rebellion. Yaqub Khan, suspected of complicity in the massacre of Cavagnari and his staff, was obliged to abdicate; the British considered a number of possible political settlements, including partitioning Afghanistan between multiple rulers or placing Yaqub's brother Ayub Khan on the throne, but decided to install his cousin Abdur Rahman Khan as emir instead. Ayub Khan, serving as governor of Herat, rose in revolt, defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Maiwand in July 1880 and besieged Kandahar. Roberts led the main British force from Kabul and decisively defeated Ayub Khan on 1 September at the Battle of Kandahar, bringing his rebellion to an end. Abdur Rahman had confirmed the Treaty of Gandamak, leaving the British in control of the territories ceded by Yaqub Khan and ensuring British control of Afghanistan's foreign policy in exchange for protection and a subsidy.
Abandoning the provocative policy of maintaining a British resident in Kabul, but having achieved all their other objectives, the British withdrew. There were several decisive actions in the Second Anglo–Afghan War, from 1878 to 1880. Here are the battles and actions in chronological order. An asterisk indicates. Battle of Ali Masjid* Battle of Peiwar Kotal* Action at Takht-i-Pul Action at Matun Battle of Khushk-i-Nakud Battle of Fatehabad Battle of Kam Dakka Battle of Charasiab* Battle of Shajui Battle of Karez Mir Battle of Takht-i-Shah Battle of Asmai Heights* Siege of Sherpur* Battle of Ahmed Khel* Battle of Arzu Second Battle of Charasiab Battle of Maiwand Battle of Deh Koja Battle of Kandahar* Kandahar Evacuation Peshawar Valley Field Force Lieutenant General Sir Samuel Browne Cavalry Brigade Brigadier General C. J. S. Gough 10th Hussars 11th Probyn's Lancers Guides Cavalry Royal Artillery First Infantry Brigade Brigadier General H. T. Macpherson 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade 20th Brownlow's Punjabis 4th Gurkha Rifles Second Infantry Brigade Brigadier General J. A. Tytler 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment Queen's Own Corps of Guides 51st Sikhs Third In
European influence in Afghanistan
The European influence in Afghanistan refers to political and imperialistic influence several European nations and colonial powers have had on the historical development of Afghanistan. After the decline of the Durrani dynasty in 1823, Dost Mohammad Khan established the Barakzai dynasty after becoming the next Emir of Afghanistan, it was not until 1826 that the energetic Dost Mohammad Khan was able to exert sufficient control over his brothers to take over the throne in Kabul, where he proclaimed himself the Shah. Dost Mohammad achieved prominence among his brothers through clever use of the support of his mother's Qizilbash tribesmen and his own youthful apprenticeship under his brother, Fateh Khan. Among the many problems he faced was repelling Sikh encroachment on the Pashtun areas east of the Khyber Pass. After working assiduously to establish control and stability in his domains around Kabul, the Shah next chose to confront the warring Sikhs. In 1834 Dost Mohammad defeated an invasion by the former ruler, Shuja Shah Durrani, but his absence from Kabul gave the Sikhs the opportunity to expand westward.
Ranjit Singh's forces occupied Peshawar. In 1836 Dost Mohammad's forces, under the command of his son Akbar Khan, defeated the Sikhs at the Battle of Jamrud, a post fifteen kilometres west of Peshawar; this was a pyrrhic victory and they failed to dislodge the Sikhs from Jamrud. The Afghan leader did not follow up this triumph by retaking Peshawar, but instead contacted Lord Auckland, the new British governor general in British India, for help in dealing with the Sikhs. With this letter, Dost Mohammad formally set the stage for British intervention in Afghanistan. At the heart of the Great Game lay the willingness of Britain and Russia to subdue, subvert, or subjugate the small independent states that lay between Russia and British India; the British became the major power in the Indian subcontinent after the Treaty of Paris and began to show interest in Afghanistan as early as their 1809 treaty with Shuja Shah Durrani. It was the threat of the expanding Russian Empire beginning to push for an advantage in the Afghanistan region that placed pressure on British India, in what became known as the "Great Game".
The Great Game set in motion the confrontation of the British and Russian empires, whose spheres of influence moved closer to one another until they met in Afghanistan. It involved Britain's repeated attempts to impose a puppet government in Kabul; the remainder of the 19th century saw greater European involvement in Afghanistan and her surrounding territories and heightened conflict among the ambitious local rulers as Afghanistan's fate played out globally. The débâcle of the Afghan civil war left a vacuum in the Hindu Kush area that concerned the British, who were well aware of the many times in history it had been employed as the invasion route to South Asia. In the early decades of the 19th century, it became clear to the British that the major threat to their interests in India would not come from the fragmented Afghan empire, the Iranians, or the French, but from the Russians, who had begun a steady advance southward from the Caucasus winning decisive wars against the Ottoman Turks and Qajar Persians.
At the same time, the Russians feared permanent British occupation in Central Asia as the British encroached northward, taking the Punjab and Kashmir. The British viewed Russia's absorption of the Caucasus, the Kyrgyz and Turkmen lands, the Khanate of Khiva, the Emirate of Bukhara with equal suspicion as a threat to their interests in the Asian subcontinent. In addition to this rivalry between Britain and Russia, there were two specific reasons for British concern over Russia's intentions. First was the Russian influence at the Iranian court, which prompted the Russians to support Iran in its attempt to take Herat the western gateway to Afghanistan and northern India. In 1837 Iran advanced on Herat with the advice of Russian officers; the second immediate reason was the presence in Kabul in 1837 of a Russian agent, Yan Vitkevich, ostensibly there, as was the British agent Alexander Burnes, for commercial discussions. The British demanded that Dost Mohammad sever all contact with the Iranians and Russians, remove Vitkevich from Kabul, surrender all claims to Peshawar, respect Peshawar's independence as well as that of Kandahar, under the control of his brothers at the time.
In return, the British government intimated that it would ask Ranjit Singh to reconcile with the Afghans. When Auckland refused to put the agreement in writing, Dost Mohammad turned his back on the British and began negotiations with Vitkevich. In 1838 Auckland, Ranjit Singh, Shuja signed an agreement stating that Shuja would regain control of Kabul and Kandahar with the help of the British and Sikhs. In practice, the plan replaced Dost Mohammad with a British figurehead whose autonomy would be as limited as that of other Indian princes, it soon became apparent to the British that Sikh participation, advancing toward Kabul through the Khyber Pass while Shuja and the British advanced through Kandahar, would not be forthcoming. Auckland's plan in the spring of 1838 was for the Sikhs to place Shuja on the Afghan throne, with British support. By the end of the summer however, the plan had changed. To justify his plan, the Governor-General of India Lord Auckland issued the Simla Manifesto in October 1838, setting forth the necessary reasons for British intervention in Afghanistan.
The manifesto stated that in order to ensu
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan, code named Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan and Operation Freedom's Sentinel, followed the United States invasion of Afghanistan of 7 October 2001. The U. S. was supported by the United Kingdom and Australia and by a coalition of over 40 countries, including all NATO members. The war's public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and to deny it a safe base of operations in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power. Since the initial objectives were completed at the end of 2001, the war involves U. S. and allied Afghan government troops battling Taliban insurgents. The War in Afghanistan is the longest war in U. S. history. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001 on the U. S. which President George W. Bush blamed on Osama bin Laden, living or hiding in Afghanistan and had been wanted since 1998, President Bush demanded that the Taliban, who were de facto ruling the country, hand over bin Laden; the Taliban declined to extradite him unless they were provided clear evidence of his involvement in the attacks, which the U.
S. dismissed as a delaying tactic and on 7 October 2001 launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom. The two were joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance – the Afghan opposition, fighting the Taliban in the ongoing civil war since 1996. By December 2001, the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies were defeated in the country, at the Bonn Conference new Afghan interim authorities elected Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan Interim Administration; the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force to assist the new authority with securing Kabul, which after a 2002 loya jirga became the Afghan Transitional Administration. A nationwide rebuilding effort was made following the end of the totalitarian Taliban regime. In the popular elections of 2004, Karzai was elected president of the country, now named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. NATO became involved in ISAF in August 2003, that year assumed leadership of it. At this stage, ISAF included troops from 43 countries with NATO members providing the majority of the force.
One portion of U. S. forces in Afghanistan operated under NATO command. S. command. Following defeat in the initial invasion, the Taliban was reorganized by its leader Mullah Omar, launched an insurgency against the Afghan government and ISAF in 2003. Though outgunned and outnumbered, insurgents from the Taliban - and to a lesser extent Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and other groups - waged asymmetric warfare with guerrilla raids and ambushes in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets, turncoat killings against coalition forces; the Taliban exploited weaknesses in the Afghan government to reassert influence across rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. From 2006 the Taliban made significant gains and showed an increased willingness to commit atrocities against civilians – ISAF responded by increasing troops for counter-insurgency operations to "clear and hold" villages. Violence escalated from 2007 to 2009. Troop numbers began to surge in 2009 and continued to increase through 2011 when 140,000 foreign troops operated under ISAF and U.
S. command in Afghanistan. Of these 100,000 were from the U. S. On 1 May 2011, United States Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. NATO leaders in 2012 commended an exit strategy for withdrawing their forces, the United States announced that its major combat operations would end in December 2014, leaving a residual force in the country. In October 2014, British forces handed over the last bases in Helmand to the Afghan military ending their combat operations in the war. On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government; the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day as a successor to ISAF. As of May 2017, over 13,000 foreign troops remain in Afghanistan without any formal plans to withdraw, continue their fight against the Taliban, which remains by far the largest single group fighting against the Afghan government and foreign troops. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war.
Over 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors, over 62,000 Afghan national security forces were killed, as well as over 31,000 civilians and more Taliban. Afghanistan's political order began to break down with the overthrow of King Zahir Shah by his distant cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan in a bloodless 1973 Afghan coup d'état. Daoud Khan had served as prime minister since 1953 and promoted economic modernization, emancipation of women, Pashtun nationalism; this was threatening to neighboring Pakistan, faced with its own restive Pashtun population. In the mid-1970s, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began to encourage Afghan Islamist leaders such as Burhanuddin Rabbani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to fight against the regime. In 1978, Daoud Khan was killed in a coup by Afghan's Communist Party, his former partner in government, known as the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan; the PDPA pushed for a socialist transformation by abolishing arranged marriages, promoting mass literacy and reforming land ownership.
This provoked opposition across rural areas. The PDPA's crackdown was met including Ismail Khan's Herat Uprising; the PDPA was beset by internal leadership differences and was weakened by an internal coup on 11 September 1979 when Hafizullah Amin ousted Nur Muhammad Tara
First Anglo-Afghan War
The First Anglo-Afghan War was fought between the British East India Company and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. The British intervened in a succession dispute between emir Dost Mohammad and former emir Shah Shujah, whom they installed upon conquering Kabul in August 1839; the main British Indian and Sikh force occupying Kabul along with their camp followers, having endured harsh winters as well, was completely annihilated while retreating in January 1842. The British sent an Army of Retribution to Kabul to avenge their defeat, having demolished parts of the capital and recovered prisoners they left Afghanistan altogether by the end of the year. Dost Mohamed returned from exile in India to resume his rule, it was one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game, the 19th century competition for power and influence in Central Asia between Britain and Russia. The 19th century was a period of diplomatic competition between the British and Russian empires for spheres of influence in Asia known as the "Great Game" to the British and the "Tournament of Shadows" to the Russians.
With the exception of the insane Emperor Paul who ordered an invasion of India in 1800, no Russian tsar seriously considered invading India, but for most of the 19th century, Russia was viewed as "the enemy" in Britain. In 1832, the First Reform Bill lowering the franchise requirements to vote and hold office in the United Kingdom was passed, which the ultra-conservative Emperor Nicholas I of Russia disapproved of, setting the stage for an Anglo-Russian "cold war", with many believing that Russian autocracy and British democracy were bound to clash. In 1837, Lord Palmerston and John Hobhouse, fearing the instability of Afghanistan, the Sindh, the increasing power of the Sikh kingdom to the northwest, raised the spectre of a possible Russian invasion of British India through Afghanistan; the Russian Empire was extending its domain into Central Asia, this was seen by the East India Company as a possible threat to their interests in India. In 19th century Russia, there was the ideology of Russia's "special mission in the East", namely Russia had the "duty" to conquer much of Asia, though this was more directed against the nations of Central Asia and the alleged "Yellow Peril" of China than India.
The British tended to misunderstand the foreign policy of the Emperor Nicholas I as anti-British and intent upon an expansionary policy in Asia. The main goal of Nicholas's foreign policy was not the conquest of Asia, but rather upholding the status quo in Europe by co-operating with Prussia and Austria, in isolating France, as Louis Philippe I, the King of the French was a man who Nicholas hated as an "usurper"; the duc d'Orleans had once been Nicholas's friend, but when he assumed the throne of France after the revolution of 1830, Nicholas was consumed with hatred for his former friend who, as he saw it, had gone over to what he perceived as the dark side of liberalism. The Company sent an envoy to Kabul to form an alliance with Afghanistan's Amir, Dost Mohammad Khan against Russia. Dost Mohammad had lost Afghanistan's second capital of Peshawar to the Sikh Empire and was willing to form an alliance with Britain if they gave support to retake it, but the British were unwilling. Instead, the British feared the French-trained Dal Khalsa, they considered the Sikh army to be a far more formidable threat than the Afghans who did not have an army at all, instead having only a tribal levy where under the banner of jihad tribesmen would come out to fight for the Emir.
The Dal Khalsa was an enormous force, trained by French officers, was equipped with modern weapons and was considered to be one of the most powerful armies on the entire Indian subcontinent. For this reason, Lord Auckland preferred an alliance with the Punjab over an alliance with Afghanistan, which had nothing equivalent to the Dal Khalsa; the British could have had an alliance with the Punjab or Afghanistan, but not both at the same time. When Governor-General of India Lord Auckland heard about the arrival of Russian envoy Count Jan Prosper Witkiewicz in Kabul and the possibility that Dost Mohammad might turn to Russia for support, his political advisers exaggerated the threat. Burnes described Witkiewicz: "He was a gentlemanly and agreeable man, of about thirty years of age, spoke French and Persian fluently, wore the uniform of an officer of the Cossacks"; the presence of Witkiewicz had thrown Burnes into a state of despair, leading one contemporary to note that he "abandoned himself to despair, bound his head with wet towels and handkerchiefs and took to the smelling bottle".
Dost Mohammad had in fact invited Count Witkiewicz to Kabul as a way to frighten the British into making an alliance with him against his archenemy Ranjit Singh, the Maharaja of the Punjab, not because he wanted an alliance with Russia. The British had the power to compel Singh to return the former Afghan territories he had conquered whereas the Russians did not, which explains why Dost M
Third Anglo-Afghan War
The Third Anglo-Afghan War known as the Third Afghan War, the British-Afghan war of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence, began on 6 May 1919 when the Emirate of Afghanistan invaded British India and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. The war resulted in the Afghans winning back control of foreign affairs from Britain, the British recognizing Afghanistan as independent. According to British author Michael Barthorp, it was a minor strategic victory for the British because the Durand Line was reaffirmed as the political boundary between Afghanistan and the British Raj, the Afghans agreed not to foment trouble on the British side; the root cause of the Third Anglo-Afghan War lies many years. For the British in India, Afghanistan was long seen as a potential source of threat. For a long time the British worried about Russian intentions in the region, concerned that a possible invasion of India could be launched by Tsarist forces through Afghanistan; this period became known as the Great Game.
In an effort to negate this threat, the British made numerous attempts at imposing their will upon Kabul, over the course of the 19th Century fought two wars: the First Anglo-Afghan War and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The end of the Second Afghan War in 1880 marked the beginning of 40 years of good relations between Britain and Afghanistan under the leadership of Abdur Rahman Khan and Habibullah Khan, during which time the British attempted to manage Afghan foreign policy through the payment of a large subsidy. Ostensibly, the country remained independent, however under the Treaty of Gandumak it accepted that in external matters it would "...have no windows looking on the outside world, except towards India". The death in 1901 of Emir Abdur Rahman Khan led indirectly to the war, his successor, was a pragmatic leader who sided with Britain or Russia, depending on Afghan interests. Despite considerable resentment over not being consulted over the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, Afghanistan remained neutral during the First World War, resisting considerable pressure from the Ottoman Empire when it entered the conflict on the side of Imperial Germany and the Sultan called for a holy war against the Allies.
Despite remaining neutral in the conflict, Habibullah did in fact accept a Turkish-German mission in Kabul and military assistance from the Central Powers as he attempted to play both sides of the conflict for the best deal. Through continual prevarication he resisted numerous requests for assistance, however he failed to keep in check troublesome tribal leaders, intent on undermining British rule in India, as Turkish agents attempted to foment trouble along the frontier; the departure of a large part of the British Indian Army to fight overseas and news of British defeats at the hands of the Turks aided Turkish agents in efforts at sedition, in 1915 there was unrest amongst the Mohmands and the Mahsuds. Not withstanding these outbreaks, the frontier remained settled at a time when Britain could ill afford trouble. A Turco-German mission left Kabul in 1916. By that time, however, it had convinced Habibullah that Afghanistan was an independent nation and that it should be beholden to no one.
With the end of the First World War, Habibullah sought to gain reward from the British government for his assistance during the war. Looking for British recognition of Afghanistan's independence in foreign affairs, he demanded a seat at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919; this request was denied by the Viceroy, Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford, on the grounds that attendance at the conference was confined to the belligerents. Further negotiations were scheduled, but before they could begin Habibullah was assassinated on 19 February 1919; this resulted in a power struggle as Habibullah's brother Nasrullah Khan proclaimed himself as Habibullah's successor, while in Kabul Amanullah, Habibullah's third son, had proclaimed himself Amir. However, the Afghan army suspected Amanullah's complicity in the death of his father. Needing a way of cementing his power, upon seizing the throne in April 1919 Amanullah posed as a man of democratic ideals, promising reforms in the system of government.
He stated that there should be no forced labour, tyranny or oppression, that Afghanistan should be free and independent and no longer bound by the Treaty of Gandamak. Upon seizing the throne, Amanullah had his uncle Nasrullah arrested for Habibullah's murder and had him sentenced to life imprisonment. Nasrullah had been the leader of a more conservative element in Afghanistan and his treatment rendered Amanullah's position as Amir somewhat tenuous. By April 1919 he realised that if he could not find a way to placate the conservatives he would be unlikely to maintain his hold on power. Looking for a diversion from the internal strife in the Afghan court and sensing advantage in the rising civil unrest in India following the Amritsar massacre, Amanullah decided to invade British India. In 1919 the Afghan regular army was not a formidable force, was only able to muster some 50,000 men; these men were organised into 21 cavalry regiments and 75 infantry battalions, with about 280 modern artillery pieces, organised into 70 batteries, in support.
In addition to this, however, in a boost to the army's strength, the Afghan command could call upon the loyalty of up to 80,000 frontier tribesmen and an indeterminate number of deserters from local militia units under British command. In reality, the Afghan regular army was not ready for war; as in past years, the upper levels of the officer corps were riddled with political intrigue. In h