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 an independent nation. 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. Although, Afghans who were on the British side of the border, did cause concerns due to revolts; the root cause of the Third Anglo-Afghan War lies. For the British in India, Afghanistan was seen as a threat; the British worried about Russian intentions, concerned that an 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. While ostensibly the country remained independent, 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 from the Central Powers, but 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 obtain 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. 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.

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 int

Gurara Waterfalls

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Kitagawa Kenji (song)

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