Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Afghan-Persian wars


Afghan-Persian War of 1726-1738

By the end of the Afghan rebellion of 1707–26, the Afghans had control of about half of Persia and had forced the abdication of the Safavid (Persian) shah Hussein (1675?–1726) in favor of the Ghilzai Afghan Ashraf (d. 1730). The uncrowned Safavid shah, Tahmasp II (d. 1739), relied on the advice of his general Nadir Khan, later called Nadir Shah (1688–1747), who engaged in war against the rebellious Afghans. Developing a disciplined army by degrees, Nadir conquered areas near Afghan-held Herat, wisely avoiding open battles until his troops were ready. Capturing Mazandrin from the Ghilzai Afghans in 1728, he closed routes to Tehran. His troops, ready in 1729, advanced on Herat, defeated the Abdali Afghans in four battles, and made them his chief ally against their rivals, the Ghilzai. The false shah, Ashraf, and his troops were defeated by Nadir’s forces at Mihmandust in 1729, thanks mainly to the Abdalis, who helped defeat Ashraf again at Murchalkur near Isfahan in 1729. Ashraf then fled to Shiraz; Nadir captured Isfahan, had Tahmasp crowned shah, received the voluntary surrender of the Ghilzai in Kirman, rested his troops, and then marched toward Shiraz. After suffering another defeat at the Battle of Zarghan (1730), Ashraf fled toward the Afghan city of Kandahar, only to be murdered by its ruler, a cousin. Rebellion at Herat occupied Nadir through 1731 and 1732. Tahmasp was deposed by Nadir in 1732 and succeeded by Tahmasp’s infant son, whom Nadir later (1736) deposed to become shah. Meanwhile, Nadir moved more than 100,000 Abdalis and related Afshars to Meshed to safeguard Khorasan, pursued his war with the Ottoman Empire, and stabilized Persia. In 1737, he moved against Kandahar, at that time the best fortified city in the world, with 80,000 soldiers, mostly Abdali cavalry. From a newly built city. Nadirabad, he directed the long siege of Kandahar, which fell by deceit in 1738. Non-Ghilzais were moved into Nadirabad. Kandahar was partly razed with great difficulty; its walls, often 30 feet thick, stand as ruins today. The Ghilzais were exchanged for Khorasan Abdalis, and Nadir rested two months before beginning his Persian invasion of Mughal India.


Afghan-Persian War of 1798

The Persian shah, Fath Ali (1766–1834), was induced by the British to pressure Afghan king Zaman (d. 1801?) not to march on British India. Zaman, one of 22 powerful Barakzai brothers (a ruling dynasty in Afghanistan), had planned an armed attack on Delhi and Kashmir. His forces invaded Indian territory, but while Zaman was there, Fath Ali encouraged Zaman’s older brother, Muhammad (fl. 1798–1816), to seize the Afghan throne. Aided by Persians, Muhammad seized the city of Kandahar and then the Afghan capital of Kabul. Zaman returned from India and was captured, blinded, and imprisoned. Muhammad was the new king.


Afghan-Persian War of 1816

Persian troops of Fath Ali Shah (1766–1834) marched to Ghorian, a Persian fortress on the frontier, in preparation for an invasion of Afghanistan to take Herat, a city claimed by the Persians. The Persian invaders were bought off by Herat’s Afghan governor, who promised a large payment of
coins stamped with the name of Fath Ali. The vizier (high Muslim official) at the court of King Muhammad (fl. 1798–1816) of Afghanistan ordered the governor to be seized and deported. Immediately Persian troops approached Herat on orders from Fath Ali, who was angered by the vizier’s seizure of the governor. To halt the Persian advance, Muhammad blinded the vizier (demanded by Fath Ali), whose relatives avenged him by seizing the throne from Muhammad.


Afghan-Persian War of 1836-1838

Under Russian influence, Muhammad Shah (1810–48), king of Persia, prepared to invade Afghanistan, marshaling his troops in Khorasan before marching into Afghan territory toward the city of Herat. The Persians began a siege of Herat on November 23, 1837, but the Afghans, aided by the British who opposed the Russians for control of the area, held them for 10 months and forced the .Persians to withdraw on September 28, 1838. Afghan ruler Dost Muhammad (1793–1863) now sought to launch a second Islamic holy war against Peshawar, an eastern border district occupied by the Sikhs, a Hindu sect (his first war there failed because of internal Afghan dissension), but the British opposed him. Dost Muhammad then accepted Russians in his court.


Afghan-Persian War of 1855-1857

The 1855 Treaty of Peshawar officially established peace and friendship between the British and Afghans, ending 12 years of hostility. That same year the Persians invaded Afghanistan to capture Herat , and the Afghans called for and received British aid to fight the invaders (see ANGLO-PERSIAN WAR OF 1856–57). In 1857, the Persians withdrew, leaving Dost Muhammad (1793–1863) to unite Afghanistan, then under many independent local rulers, under his kingship.


Source: "Dictionary of Wars", By George C. Kohn, pp.402-404


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