Emirate of Afghanistan

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Emirate of Afghanistan
امارت افغانستان (Persian)
Imārat-i Afğānistān
Map of the Emirate of Afghanistan.png
Map of the Emirate of Afghanistan in 1914 (green)
Afghanistan before the 1893 Durand Line Agreement (yellow)
Status De-jure British protected state (1879–1919) [lower-alpha 1] [1]
Capital Kabul
Official languages Persian
Spoken languages
Ethnic groups
Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Persian, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gurjar, Arab, Brahui, Qizilbash, Pamiri, Kyrgyz, others
Majority: Sunni Islam Minorities: Twelver Shia Islam, Ismailism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism
Demonym(s) Afghan
Government Unitary absolute emirate
 1823–1826 (first)
Sultan Mohammad Khan
 1919–1926 (last)
Amanullah Khan
Legislature Loya Jirga
Historical era 19th century
24 May 1879
  Durand Line Agreement
12 November 1893
8 August 1919
 Transformed into a kingdom
9 June 1926
Currency Afghan rupee
ISO 3166 code AF
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Herat until 1842.svg Durrani Empire
Flag of Herat until 1842.svg Herat
Black flag.svg Principality of Qandahar
Blank.png Maimana Khanate
Kingdom of Afghanistan Flag of Afghanistan (1926-1928).svg
Today part of Afghanistan

The Emirate of Afghanistan, [lower-alpha 2] known as the Emirate of Kabul until 1855, [2] was an emirate in Central Asia and South Asia that encompassed present-day Afghanistan and parts of present-day Pakistan (before 1893). [3] The emirate emerged from the Durrani Empire, when Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Barakzai dynasty in Kabul, prevailed.


The history of the Emirate was dominated by the 'Great Game' between the Russian Empire and the British Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. This period was characterized by European influence in Afghanistan. The Emirate of Afghanistan continued the Durrani Empire's war with the Sikh Empire, losing control of the former Afghan stronghold of the Valley of Peshawar at the Battle of Nowshera on 14 March 1823. This was followed in 1838 by the First Anglo-Afghan War with British forces. The war eventually resulted in victory for Afghans, with the British withdrawal in 1842 [4] and Dost Mohammad being reinstalled to the throne. [4] However, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880), the British and Afghans signed the Treaty of Gandamak, which allowed the British to assume control of the Afghan territories within modern-day Pakistan as well as of Afghanistan's foreign affairs, on the condition that a subsidy be paid to the Afghans and the British military fully withdraw. Emir Amanullah Khan signed the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 following the Third Anglo-Afghan War, gaining full Afghan independence. In 1926, Amanullah Khan reformed the country as the Kingdom of Afghanistan, becoming its first King.


Escalated a few years after the establishment of the emirate, the Russian and British interests were in conflict between Muhammad Shah of Iran and Dost Mohammad Khan, which led to the First Anglo-Afghan War, fought between 1838 and 1842. [5] During the war, Britain occupied the capital, Kabul, of the then called Emirate of Kabul, in an effort to prevent Afghanistan from coming under Russian control and curb Russian expansion, while also keeping Afghanistan in the British fold under a puppet leader, Shah Shujah Durrani. The war ended with Dost Mohammad returning to the throne, with the British withdrawing; unable to subjugate the country, they forged greater ties instead, allowing Dost Mohammad to move toward uniting the dis-united state of Afghanistan, which split from the Durrani Civil wars brought on by the sons of Timur Shah. [6]

Upon the death of Dost Mohammad in 1863, he was succeeded by his son, Sher Ali Khan. However, three years later, his older brother Mohammad Afzal Khan overthrew him. In 1868, Mohammad Afzal Khan was himself overthrown and replaced as Emir by Sher Ali, who returned to the throne after spending few short years in exile in Russia. His return as Emir led to new conflicts with Britain. Subsequently, the British marched on 21 November 1878 into Afghanistan and Emir Sher Ali was forced to flee again to Russia, but he died in 1879 in Mazar-i-Sharif. [7] His successor, Mohammad Yaqub Khan, sought solutions for peace with Russia and gave them a greater say in Afghanistan's foreign policy. Meanwhile, he signed the Treaty of Gandamak with the British on 26 May 1879, relinquishing solely the control of Afghanistan foreign affairs to the British Empire. However, when the British envoy Sir Louis Cavagnari was killed in Kabul on 3 September 1879, the British offered to accept Abdur Rahman Khan as Emir. The British concluded a peace treaty with the Afghans in 1880, and withdrew again in 1881 from Afghanistan. The British, in 1893, forced Afghanistan to consent to a new border, termed the Durand Line, which cuts right through the historic Pashtun settlement region. [8]

After the war, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, who struck down the country reformed and repressed numerous uprisings. After his death in 1901 his son Habibullah Khan succeeded as emir and continued reforms. Habibullah Khan sought reconciliation with the UK, where he graduated in 1905 with a peace treaty with Russia, stretching for defeat in the Russo-Japanese War had to withdraw from Afghanistan. In the First World War, Afghanistan remained neutral, despite German and Ottoman efforts (Niedermayer–Hentig Expedition). In 1919 Habibullah Khan was assassinated by political opponents. [9]

Habibullah Khan's son Amanullah Khan was in 1919 against the rightful heir apparent Nasrullah Khan, the then Emir of Afghanistan. Shortly afterwards another war broke which lasted for three months. [10] [11] [12] [13] This war was ended with the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 after which, the Afghans were able to resume the right to conduct their own foreign affairs as a fully independent state. [14] Amanullah Khan began the reformation of the country and was crowned 1926 Padshah (king) of Afghanistan and founded the Kingdom of Afghanistan. [15]

Afghan civil war and rise of the Barakzais (1799–1823)

Establishment in Kabul (1823)

Sultan Mohammad Khan's reign (1823–1826)

Coup of Dost Mohammad (1826)

Reign of Dost Mohammad Khan (1826–1863)

First Anglo-Afghan War (1838–1842)

Return of Dost Mohammad and wars of reunification (1842–1863)

Second Anglo-Afghan Treaty (1857)

Death of Dost Mohammad and Afghan civil war (1863–1869)

Reign of Sher Ali Khan (1869–1879)

Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880)

See also


  1. Despite agreeing to the terms of the Treaty of Gandamak, Abdur Rahman Khan held Afghanistan as a de-facto independent state by holding external affairs with other nations such as Persia and Russia, and often opposing the British.
    • Persian: امارت افغانستان, romanized: Amārat-i Afghānistān
    • Pashto: د افغانستان امارت, romanized: Da Afghānistān Amārat

Related Research Articles

Afghan Turkestan, also known as Southern Turkestan, is a region in northern Afghanistan, on the border with the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In the 19th century, there was a province in Afghanistan named Turkestan with Mazari Sharif as provincial capital. The province incorporated the territories of the present-day provinces of Balkh, Kunduz, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol, and Faryab. In 1890, Qataghan-Badakhshan Province was separated from Turkestan Province. It was later abolished by Emir Abdur Rahman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abdur Rahman Khan</span> Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901

Abdur Rahman Khan, GCSI also known by his epithets, The Iron Amir, or The Dracula Amir, was Amir of Afghanistan from 1880 to his death in 1901. He is known for uniting the country after years of internal fighting and negotiation of the Durand Line Agreement with British India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European influence in Afghanistan</span> Overview of the influence of European colonial powers in Afghanistan

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dost Mohammad Khan</span> Emir of Afghanistan (r. 1826–39 and 1843–63)

Emir Dost Mohammad Khan Barakzai, nicknamed the Amir-i Kabir, was the founder of the Barakzai dynasty and one of the prominent rulers of Afghanistan during the First Anglo-Afghan War. With the decline of the Durrani dynasty, he became the Emir of Afghanistan in 1826. He was the 11th son of Payendah Khan, chief of the Barakzai Pashtuns, who was killed in 1799 by King Zaman Shah Durrani.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Third Anglo-Afghan War</span> 1919 war between the British Empire (India) and the Emirate of Afghanistan

The Third Anglo-Afghan War began on 6 May 1919 when the Emirate of Afghanistan invaded British India and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. The Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 resulted in the Afghans gaining control of foreign affairs from Britain and the British recognizing the Durand Line as the border between Afghanistan and British India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Anglo-Afghan War</span> 1878–1880 war between the British Empire and the Emirate of Afghanistan

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. The war was part of the Great Game between the British and Russian empires.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Treaty of Gandamak</span> 1879 treaty ending the first phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War

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Wazīr Akbar Khān, born Mohammad Akbar Khān and also known as Amīr Akbar Khān, was a Barakzai prince, general, emir for a year, and finally wazir/heir apparent to Dost Mohammad Khan until his death in 1847. His fame began with the 1837 Battle of Jamrud, while attempting to regain Afghanistan's second capital Peshawar from the Sikh Empire.

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Mohammadzai, also spelled Moḥammadzay, is a Pashtun sub-tribe or clan of the Barakzai which is part of the Durrani confederacy of tribes. They are primarily centered on Kandahar, Kabul and Ghazni in Afghanistan. The Mohammadzai ruled Afghanistan from 1823 to 1978, for a total of 155 years. The monarchy ended under Mohammad Zahir Shah when his brother in law Sardar Daoud Khan took power via a coup.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barakzai dynasty</span> 1818–1978 ruling dynasty of Afghanistan

The Barakzai dynasty also known as the Muhammadzai dynasty ruled modern day Afghanistan from 1823 to 1978 when the monarchy ended de jure under Musahiban Mohammad Zahir Shah and de facto under his cousin Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan. The Barakzai dynasty was established by Dost Mohammad Khan after the Durrani dynasty of Ahmad Shah Durrani was removed from power.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Afghanistan</span> Monarchy in Central Asia from 1926 to 1973

The Kingdom of Afghanistan was a constitutional monarchy in Central Asia established in 1926 as a successor state to the Emirate of Afghanistan. It was proclaimed by its first king, Amanullah Khan, seven years after he acceded to the throne. The monarchy ended in the 1973 Afghan coup d'état.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mohammad Nadir Shah</span> King of Afghanistan from 1929 to 1933

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barakzai</span> Tribe in Afghanistan

Bārakzai is the name of a Pashtun tribe from present-day, Kandahar, Afghanistan. '"Barakzai" is a common name among the Pashtuns and it means "son of Barak" in Pashto. According to the Encyclopædia Iranica, "In the detailed Pashtun genealogies there are no fewer than seven instances of the ethnic name Bārakzī, at very different levels of tribal segmentation. Six of them designate simple lineages within six different tribes located in the Solaymān mountains or adjacent lands... The seventh instance, on the other hand, designates one of the most important Pashtun tribes in numbers and historic role, part of the Zīrak branch of the Dorrānay confederation.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sultan Mohammad Khan</span> Regent of Kabul from 1823 to 1826

Sultan Mohammad Khan, also known as Ghazi Sardar Sultan Mohammad Talaei, and known by his epithet, Sultan Mohammad Khan the Golden was an Afghan chief minister and regent. He was a powerful brother of Emir Dost Mohammad Khan, the eventual ruler of Afghanistan who seized control of Kabul from him. Prior to and during the reign of Dost Mohammad Khan, Sultan Muhammad Khan Telai was chief minister and governor of various regions of Afghanistan, including Kabul, Peshawar and Kohat. He was the first of the Musahiban, a Mohammadzai dynasty that began with him and ruled Afghanistan for more than 150 years, in various forms such as emir, king or president from 1823 to 1978.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shaghasi</span> Family of the Barakzai dynasty, Afghanistan

Shaghasi are alongside the Seraj and Telai a prominent and powerful cadet-branch of the Afghan Royal Family. They belong to the Zirak branch of the Durrani confederacy, and are primarily centered around Kandahar. They can also be found in other provinces throughout central Afghanistan.



  2. Lee 2019, p. 317.
  3. Lee, Jonathan (2019). Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present. Reaktion Books. p. 188. ISBN   9781789140101.
  4. 1 2 Kohn, George Childs (2013). Dictionary of Wars. Revised Edition. London/New York: Routledge. p. 5. ISBN   9781135954949. Archived from the original on 27 July 2020. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  5. Shultz, Richard H.; Dew, Andrea J. (22 August 2006). Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat . Columbia University Press. ISBN   9780231503426.
  6. Baxter, Craig (2001). "The First Anglo–Afghan War". In Federal Research Division, Library of Congress (ed.). Afghanistan: A Country Study. Baton Rouge, LA: Claitor's Pub. Division. ISBN   1-57980-744-5. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  7. Dupree: Amir Sher Ali Khan Archived 30 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Smith, Cynthia (August 2004). "A Selection of Historical Maps of Afghanistan – The Durand Line". United States: Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 9 January 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  9. Islam and Politics in Afghanistan, Olesen, page 101
  10. Dijk, Ruud van; Gray, William Glenn; Savranskaya, Svetlana; Suri, Jeremi; Zhai, Qiang (13 May 2013). Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Routledge. ISBN   9781135923105. Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  11. Adamec, Ludwig W. (1 January 2012). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810878150. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  12. Pazhvāk, ʻabd al-Raḥmān (1959). Aryana, ancient Afghanistan. Archived from the original on 1 January 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  13. Jawed, Mohammed Nasir (1 January 1996). Year Book of the Muslim World. Medialine. ISBN   9788186420003. Archived from the original on 1 January 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  14. Barthorp 2002 , pp. 27 & 64
  15. "Afghanistan". World Statesmen. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2015.

Works cited

  • Barthorp, Michael (2002) [1982]. Afghan Wars and the North-West Frontier 1839–1947. London: Cassell. ISBN   0-304-36294-8.

Further reading

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