MastahCheef117

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Marshal Zhang Zuolin
張作林元帥
To the Vanquisher of the Manchu:

I am honored to be written by a man of such martial skill that he effected the destruction of the Manchu oppressors in the north of our beloved home country. The feats of arms performed by the prod revolutionaries and nationalists that have all but toppled the vile Qing are to be commended and will surely be remember for generations to come as among the great ancestors of all brave Chinese men. Be that as it may, however, I regret to express, from no fault of my own, nor for any lack of love for country or any patriotism whatever, my inability to rid the country of the counter-revolutionaries in the South nor the tyrants in the West. Efforts are being taken in the lands in which I reside to restore order and peace, and a semblance of economic prosperity, which are proceeding smoothly with great success at the present time, but will require more energy and resources than can be risked on other projects and assignments, as you have so humbly requested.

The brave defenders of Harbin and Changchun will keep at bay the evil waves of counterrevolution and Manchu tyranny, and will protect all Han from persecution. This I assure you, as one nationalist to another.

Respectfully,
Marshal Zhang Zuolin
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naxhi24

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The Kingdom of Portugal humbly asks for a loan from the Third Republic of France due to recent news of diplomatic negotiations between France and Spain over Morocco. The Kingdom of Portugal requires a great sum of money for the coming years, and courteously asks the financial institutions of the French Republic to help with possibly supplying a loan. Portugal will be indebted to the French Republic if they accept our request. Portugal is willing to negotiate the arrangements of the loan as well should the need arise.

-Ambassador to France, Tomás de Sousa Rosa
 

Cloud Strife

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A communique to the Kingdom of Portugal regarding the request for a loan;

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Having received your request the Government of France shall consult with various guarantors to raise a sum of monies [1b in game money] to give effect to the needs of the Portuguese government, in regards to the negotiations between France and the Government of Spain that Portugal has no doubt been made aware of. In exchange for the immediate release of these monies we ask for a 10 year colonial economic concession for raw materials [valued at 150m in game money] to pay off the principle, by being sold to the factors subscribing to the Portuguese loan.

Additionally, France suggests that this agreement be the basis on which a new era of relations between Portugal and France can be built upon, and that Portugal ought to subscribe to the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Alliance we are currently negotiating with Spain as a basis for brotherly relations between our peoples. We can live shoulder to shoulder and break bread with one another, this is France's policy towards all friends.
 

oxfordroyale

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Addressed to Minister of Foreign Affairs Théophile Delcassé of the French Third Republic,

The Republic of China thanks the French Third Republic for its strong words of condemnation regarding the Japanese blockade of our southern ports, and promises to do its utmost to ensure the safety of French nationals, as well as the security of French colonial possessions, in the region. It means a great deal to us that a great power such as France would endeavor to defend our republic on the international stage, where we have long languished in obscurity. In addition to expressing our gratitude, the Republic of China would like to further extend a hand to the French Third Republic in the hopes of establishing formal diplomatic relations and opening the door to future cooperation. We believe that the French and Chinese governments share several common desires: namely, the promotion of peace and harmony among all the peoples of China, and the pursuit of a policy of openness towards the West that will engender prosperity for Asians and Europeans alike. The Republic of China would see stronger economic and political links forged between our two states in order to accomplish these goals, and seeks to ascertain whether the French Third Republic feels the same.

We eagerly await your response.

On Behalf of the Republic of China,
Minister of Foreign Affairs WU TINGFANG

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Cloud Strife

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A communique to the authorities of Southern China;

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We are watching events unfolding China with much worry and in consultation with the Cabinet, France is recognizing Southern China as a belligerent power in regards to the ongoing conflict in the region. Per International Law, as a belligerent power we recognize your right to buy arms and munitions from France, to apply for credit and loans, and to send duly appointed officials to France to represent the interests of your faction in Paris. While this is stops short of formal recognition we hope that this will be a good first step towards future cooperation.

Sincerely,
M. Delcassé

[Attached is a confidential, sealed note to be read only at the all-highest level of ROC government.]
 

Ranger900

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Foreign Members of the Revolution.

Among the United Balkan Revolution, there was significant noise made about the foreigners that came to support the revolution. Eagerly accepted as comrades in arms in the name of Balkan Freedom by the revolutionaries. While the record keeping of the United Balkan Revolution at this time is relatively poor, they did keep some photos and papers recording fighters from beyond the Balkans. Occasionally, these members would get named in messages or used for posters or spread about by poster.

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The relatively small Russian contingent of the Revolution. The back of the picture states the photo was taken before major fighting began in 1908. As of 1909, Milyukov Stanislavovich (Center Front Row), Valerian Fyodorov (Top Left, Back Row), Isidor Alekseev (Top Center, Back Row) are listed as killed in action around Konopishte. The fates of the rest of those in this photo are unknown.

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A mixed contingent of German, French and British volunteers practicing with a smuggled in machine gun in later 1908. It should be noted that some soldiers crafted helmets out of steel sections found within Macedonian territory, but it was not common practice due to steel being used for other projects. Nobody in this photo is named, but on the back there are writings that relate to those on the front side, including country of origin and status as of sometime in 1909. KIA's included one frenchman (second from the left left) and a brit (Tallest figure, standing behind the machinegunner). The man in the helmet is listed as WIA along with a note that his helmet apparently saved him from shrapnel.

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Spanish, Italian and Portuguese volunteers following the battle of Veles. Little information beyond that is provided on the photo. Names and fates are unknown.



 

Olligarchy

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The Lonely One
The Fate of the Battleship Pelayo

Ordered in 1884 and laid down in 1885 in La Seyne, France, the Battleship that would come to be named Pelayo and renamed Reina Maria Christina later on in its service was by 1909 the longest serving ship in the Spanish navy, and her sole battleship since 1900 and the end of the Spanish-American war. She’d never seen action, but maintained her long standing vigil off Cadiz.

The loss of her sister ships Numancia and Vitoria as spoils of war had left her as the sole battleship of the Spanish Kingdom which gained her the moniker “The lonely one” and even as the other European powers began their naval race to expand their fleets and build mighty dreadnoughts which vastly outclassed her, she maintained her vigil of the Iberian coastline, never wavering.

With the defence review of 1909 and the construction of the three new dreadnought style battleships, she was deemed obsolete, and initially set up for scrapping which was only halted when her crew petitioned the king directly for the ship to be saved. Certainly, it had never been a hero of any war, but she had served her country with distinction for more than two decades and deserved better than some scrap heap.

The King, being idealistic as he was and having a personal attachment to the ship which had served as his flagship and transport to cities such as Tangiers agreed, overriding the decision and initially suggesting the ship be sold or gifted to a friendly nation. However, by the end of the year no interested parties had emerged, so the King finally decreed that the Pelayo would become a museum ship, to be shown at the Naval museum in Cadiz exhibition to showcase the ‘last of the ancient battleships’, and to serve as a reminder just how far the nation had come since the Spanish-American war.
 
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Luftwafer

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822px-Coat_of_arms_of_Serbia.svg.png

The Serbian government, requests a loan from the Spainish government. This money will be used to revitalise the Serbian economy and fuel growth.
The loan will be repaid in full at the end of the period allotted, along with interest. We are willing to negotiate upon terms.

Your's humbly.
The Serbian Ambassador to Spain
Aleksandr Marić
 

Olligarchy

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218px-Flag_of_Spain_%281785-1873_and_1875-1931%29.svg.png

Kingdom of Spain

As discussed in earlier negotiations, the Kingdom of Spain agrees to offer the Kingdom of Serbia a loan equal to 200 million pounds sterling (in game moneyz), to be paid into the Serbian Governments coffers. The loan is to be considered matured in 1920 at which point the Kingdom of Serbia is obligated to either repay the full sum borrowed or the final installment of said loan as well as any part of its 5% Compound interest which is added yearly.

For Spain
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Minister of Economy

For Serbia
 

Kho

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Dawlat-e-Khudadad-e-Afghanistan

National Anthem: None
Form of Government: Unitary Islamic Absolute Monarchy
Head of State: His Highness the Amir Habibullah Khan, reigning since 1901
Capital: Kabul
Legislature: The Loya Jirga (National Assembly), advisory
Cabinet: The Khilwat (Supreme Council), advisory

Details of Members of the Khilwat (WIP)
Mustaufi-ul-Mamalik: Mirza Mohammad Hussein Khan (Head Accountant and Exchequer)
Kazi-ul-Kuzzat: Sa'd al-Din (Chief Judge)
Sardar Muhammad Amin Khan (Minister for Justice)

Foreign Correspondance and Treaties
- Signing into effect the Treaty Between British, Afghan, Persian, and Ottoman Governments, 1910
- Letters from His Highness the Amir to the Shahanshah and the Khalifa, 1911

Internal Affairs
- The Mustaufi's Opening Speech at the first annual sitting of the Loya Jirga and Khilwat before the Amir in review of the year 1909 & Private Letter from Mahmud Tarzi Muhammadzai to His Highness the Amir, 1910
- The Amir's Speeches on his return journey after signing the treaty at Bandar Abbas, Kandahar & Herat, 1910
-The Mustaufi's Opening Speech at the first annual sitting of the Loya Jirga and Khilwat before the Amir in review of the year 1910, 1911

Miscellanea
- The Pilgrimage of the Hajji-Mujahideen, 1909
- The Afghans are the Ten Lost Tribes, 1911

- An Exposition on Elements of Russian Central Asia: The Emirate of Bukhara & The Khanate of Khiva, 1911
- The Return of the Hajji-Mujahideen, 1911



A General History of the Dawlat-e-Khudadad-e-Afghanistan, 1879-1909

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1879-1881

On February 21, 1879, at the height of the first phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, Amir Sher ‘Ali Khan succumbed to gout and grief in Mazar-i-Sharif.

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Amir Sher 'Ali Khan

His son, Mohammad Ya’qub Khan, succeeded him in Kabul. No longer the ambitious and enterprising man he had been before his rebellion against his father in 1870, years of imprisonment having adversely affected his health, Amir Ya’qub Khan eventually acquiesced to British demands. Gandamak – where the last remnants of retreating British troops had perished in 1842 – was where, on May 26th, 1879, the Treaty of Gandamak was signed.

The treaty saw the Amir surrender control of Afghanistan’s external relations to the British, stationing of British soldiers in Afghanistan, surrender of control over the Khyber Pass and Michni Pass to the British and, for administrative purposes only, the districts of Kurram, Pishin, and Sibi. In return, Britain would guarantee support against foreign aggression, promise non-interference in Afghan internal affairs, and grant an annual subsidy of £60,000 to the Amir.

The treaty strengthened the British hold on the Emirate and meant that with time, just as had occurred in Baluchistan in 1876, Afghanistan would eventually be incorporated into the Empire – either gradually, or through another war caused by a foreseeable - undoubtable! - Afghan breach of the treaty.

The breach came on September 3rd 1879 when Sir Louis Cavagnari – the chief British negotiator at Gandamak who had on July 24th 1879 taken up residence in the Bala Hissar, seat of Afghan rulers since 1776, and had become to all extents and purposes the ruler of Afghanistan – was attacked and killed in his residence by a furious mob of unpaid Herati soldiers and Kabuli citizens. Attempts by the Amir to prevent the subsequent massacre of the British mission met with failure.

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Photograph of the Bala Hissar and Palace in Kabul, 1879

The British response was swift.

Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad were occupied, and Amir Ya’qub Khan was forced to abdicate and effectively taken prisoner by the British. It seemed the British had come to stay.

‘…under the present juncture of affairs, the thing to do is to say to the Afghans. You shall give in, you have killed Cavi[gnari], and his 100 men, but we are sending another representative with 10,000 men, and he shall stay there whether you like it or not. We wish one thing from you, and that is friendship, but whether we get this or not, we will have your obedience, you may chafe as much as you please, but we will be your masters, and you will find that the only escape from our heavy hand will be your entire submission.’ – Charles M. MacGregor, Chief of Staff of the British Forces at Kabul, 1879

General Fredrick Roberts, Supreme Commander of the occupying forces in Kabul and now ‘King of Kabul’, would go on to oversee a reign of terror in the city, ordering the deaths of Afghans whether involved in the killing of Cavagnari or not. Perhaps one-hundred and seventy men fell victim to the vengeful Briton. This was followed by the deportation of Amir Ya’qub Khan and other notables to India, the confinement of his family to house arrest, and the destruction of the Bala Hissar. These affronts could only further Afghan rage and indignation. If the Briton thought to instil within the Afghan fear, he had only created hate.

In Ghazni, an elderly Mulla by the name of Mushk-e-‘Alam declared jihad against the infidel invaders, and many thousands of tribesmen flocked to him in order to reprise their fathers’ glorious triumph in 1842.

‘Oh people! Our land has been seized by the infidels. It is our duty to God and his Prophet to fight against the enemy of our faith and country. If we kill them, we will be heroes, and if we die, we will be martyrs. Either way, paradise will be our reward.’ – Mulla Mushk-e-‘Alam to a large gathering in Ghazni, November 1879

At the Battle of Asmai Heights in December, a force of 50,000 vengeful Tajik and Pashtun Afghans, amongst them the gifted military leader chief Mohammad Jan Wadak, descended upon Kabul and briefly liberated it. Unable to uproot the British troops fortified within the city, (because they decided to spend ten days looting the city instead) they were eventually forced to retreat. With Ghazni as their base, the ‘National Party’, as it came to be known, had one ultimate goal: the restoration of the Amir and a return to the status quo.

Realising that direct rule was going to be exceedingly difficult, General Roberts (fondly referred to as ‘Rawpit-e-Kal’, Robert the Bald) assigned an indigenous wali (governor) over the city and hoped for the best. However, the powers that be (i.e. the Viceroy of India, Edward Lytton) had changed their mind about the fate of the nation – it was no longer to be incorporated into the Empire, but rather to be divided into different emirates and various parts annexed by neighbouring nations. By the power and indomitable will of the Afghan people, who had great Allah on their side, the schemes of the Briton unravelled and fell apart.

A Lord of Men Descends

From Russia, there descended upon the chaotic Afghan nation a man who would forge the modern Afghan state and claw his name into its mountains and the very hearts of its uncowed people. The Iron Amir, ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan, grandson of the Amir-i-Kabir Dost Mohammad Khan, had partaken in the fratricidal war between his father, Mohammad Afzal Khan, and Sher ‘Ali Khan in the late 1860s. Following his father’s defeat, he organised an army in Bukhara in 1866 and defeated Sher ‘Ali in three consecutive battles before entering Kabul and reinstating his father on the throne. When Afzal Khan died in 1867, ‘Abd al-Rahman’s uncle, Mohammad Azam Khan, rose to the throne and swiftly alienated his nephew. The young Iron Amir departed for Mazar-i-Sharif and later, following Sher ‘Ali’s reconquest of Kabul and Kandahar in January 1869, moved into a long exile in Russian Central Asia.

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A Young 'Abd al-Rahman Khan

He crossed the Amu Darya into Afghan Badakhshan in January of 1880 and immediately won the support of a detachment of the Afghan Army in Qataghan. His power was increased further when his cousin and ally, Ishaq Khan son of Mohammad Azam Khan, was joined by the entire army of Mazar-i-Sharif. With the National Party insisting that the British return the deposed Amir, and British reluctance to do so, ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan’s bid for power continued to strengthen. The British offered him their support in establishing his rule over ‘Northern’ Afghanistan. (That is to say, Kabul, eastern Afghanistan, and Turkestan). Having lived in Russia, the man was by nature suspicious – you could tell a European was lying by the mere fact of sound leaving their mouth.

‘When the British Government tells me what are to be the boundaries of Afghanistan; will Kandahar as of old, be left in my kingdom or not? Will a European Envoy and a [British] Government remain within the boundaries of Afghanistan, after friendship is made between us two or not? What enemy of the British Government shall I be expected to repel, and what manner of assistance will the Government wish me to give? And what benefits will the Government undertake to confer on me and on my countrymen?’ – ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan’s questions to British negotiator Lepel H. Griffin, 18 May 1880

‘With regard to limits of territory, I am directed to say that the whole province of Kandahar has been placed under a separate ruler, except Pishin and Sibi, which are retained in British possession. Consequently the Government is not able to enter into any negotiations with you on these points, nor in respect to arrangements with regard to the north-west frontier, which were concluded with the ex-Ameer Mahomed Yakoob Khan. With these reservations the British Government are willing that you should establish over Afghanistan (including Herat, the possession of which cannot be guaranteed to you, though Government are not disposed to hinder measures which you may take to obtain possession of it) as complete and extensive authority as has hitherto been exercised by any Ameer of your family.’ – Lepel H. Griffin in response to ‘Abd al-Rahman’s questions, June 1880

‘Abd al-Rahman Khan delayed in accepting this proposition as it meant sacrificing most of his country. In this period, Viceroy Lytton was replaced as viceroy by Lord Ripon and the government in London had changed.

By July 20 1880, worried about the movements of his rival, Muhammad Ayyub Khan son of the late Amir Sher ‘Ali Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan had arrived in Charikar, north of Kabul, to accept the emirate of ‘Northern’ Afghanistan on British terms, meaning surrendering claims to the fertile Kandahar region, along with the Khyber and other areas surrendered temporarily in the Treaty of Gandamak. On arrival, he was hailed as Amir by representatives of the National Party. The following Friday in Kabul, the Friday sermon was read in his name as Amir by the Khan-e-mulla (the chief judge) in a grand mosque. It appeared that the plot to divide the Afghan nation had met with success. Afghanistan was now divided between the British in the south, Ayyub Khan in the west, and ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan in the east and north.

Seizing the Nation

Kandahar had, until 1776, been the imperial capital of the Afghan Durrani Empire, and was the home of the ruling Durrani tribe and its numerous divisions. Not only did it possess some of the most fertile lands in Afghanistan, it was one of the most important points of Central Asian trade. On May 11, 1880, Kandahar was handed over to Wali Sher ‘Ali Khan (not to be confused with his cousin, the late Amir Sher ‘Ali Khan) by the British, declaring him the Wali of Kandahar and all its dependencies.

‘I have the pleasure in announcing to you that Her Majesty the Queen-Empress has been pleased to recognise Your Highness as an independent ruler of Kandahar.’ – Letter from Viceroy Lytton appointing Sher 'Ali wali, May 11, 1880

‘Under the just rule of the Wali Sher 'Ali Khan, and under the protection of England, Kandahar will, if it pleases God, remain free from foreign aggression, and will rise to such a height of wealth and prosperity that it will be the envy of the whole of Islam.’ – Statement by Colonel St. John, Viceroy’s Political Representative, 1880

However, the Wali soon came to know that allying with the infidel invader and swearing allegiance to them had only earned him the ire of the people. Moreover, most of the various divisions of his own Durrani tribe rejected him. In late June, it became apparent that Mohammad Ayyub Khan, who had retained control of the Herat region and now ruled it independently, was advancing against Kandahar to oust the kafir Sher ‘Ali Khan. Up to that point, Ayyub Khan had doggedly waged anti-British operations from his base in Herat, but he now decided that an all-out jihad was required not only against the British, but against all the traitors who had sided with them. He would march forth and liberate Kandahar from the infidels. The British sent a force under Major General Burrows to meet the threat.

On July 27, 1880, the British force under General Burrows, made up of 2,800 regulars with 2,000 followers, and the Afghan force under Ayyub Khan, made up of 4,555 infantrymen, 3,200 cavalrymen, and 4,000 ghazis, met near Maiwand. Burrows was shocked to find that the Afghan force had thirty well-handled field guns to his twelve. Burrows gave his order to attack, and Ayyub Khan responded with ‘ya char yar!’ the warcry of the Afghans. The subsequent battle would produce a famed Afghan martyr, Malalai, who, upon seeing the men falter, used her veil as a standard and urged the warriors on by shouting:

Young love! If you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!

With a drop of my sweetheart's blood
Shed in defence of the Motherland,
Will I put a beauty spot on my forehead
Such as would put to shame the rose in the garden!

The result was a stunning Afghan victory. British losses came at 1,100 and Afghan killed and wounded numbered 2,150. From there, Ayyub Khan advanced on Kandahar, his forces swelling by some 30,000 as warriors flocked to him from places as far off as Kalat in Baluchistan. The scheme to divide Afghanistan appeared to be on thin ice, and Afghans had once more proven that they were a Spartan people.

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Mohammad Ayyub Khan, Lion of Maiwand

From July 31 to August 1, 1880, British officials met with Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan at Zimma where the British promised the Amir that they would soon leave, allowing the Amir to tell his people that he was ‘sending the invaders away’. The Amir was also given two million rupees and light field guns. In return, the Amir persuaded the Ghilji elders to permit the British passage through their lands on the way to Kandahar. General Roberts, who had been replaced in Kabul by General Donald Stewart on May 2, set off with a 10,000 strong army on August 7, arriving at Kandahar on August 31, and defeated Ayyub Khan in a battle that took place in the Baba Wali Pass on September 1. Ayyub Khan returned to Herat later in the month, and the British withdrew back to India.

With an independent Kandahar now untenable, the British gave it up for good on April 16, 1881, and handed the region to Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan, along with more weaponry and money. Wali Sher ‘Ali Khan was granted a life allowance and settled in Karachi, where he faded into obscurity. The Second Anglo-Afghan War had taught the British once more that in Afghanistan, you may hold the cities, but it is far more difficult to hold near anything else.

Meanwhile, in Herat, Ayyub Khan had put down a rebellion and was once more building up for an assault on Kandahar. In July 1881, he defeated a larger force loyal to the Amir at Karez-e-‘Atta and emerged victorious, subsequently entering Kandahar without further resistance. Rather than march out immediately to take Kabul, he decided to remain in Kandahar.

The Iron Amir, however, marched out against his rival. He won over the eastern and southern Ghiljis, as well as the Tajiks of Kohistan, with his generosity and promises of just governance for all. Once more, Ayyub Khan called for jihad, declaring ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan a kafir and puppet of the British. Their forces met on September 22, 1881, with the Amir’s force numbering some 14,000 while that of Ayyub Khan came at 17,000.

The battle was an overwhelming victory for the Amir, who commanded his men personally and maintained absolute order and discipline during the battle. Ayyub Khan, by contrast, watched the battle unfold from afar.
He subsequently fled back to Herat, only to learn that it had fallen on October 2 to ‘Abd al-Kuddus Khan, governor of Shiberghan, on the Amir’s orders. His base taken, Ayyub Khan had no option but to flee to Mashhad in Persia.
With this, Afghanistan was reunited under the rule of one Amir – with the exception of Maymana, which would be pacified in 1884. Ayyub Khan would eventually agree to a British offer to settle in Lahore, India, in 1888, thus ensuring he could not threaten the rule of Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman any further. He would go on to visit the Kashmir in 1907, and then Japan. As of 1909, he is still alive and well in Lahore, although his virile and active nature appears to have been replaced with one more morose and reserved.

‘As God wished to relieve Afghanistan from foreign aggression and internal disturbances, He honoured this, His humble servant, by placing him in this responsible position, and He caused him to become absorbed in thoughts of the welfare of the nation and inspired him to be devoted to the progress of this people ...for the welfare and true faith of the Holy Prophet Mahomed.’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan

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1880-1901

With the nation now his, and with the British granting him an annual subsidy of 1.2 million Indian rupees in 1882, the Iron Amir turned to the more important matter of truly uniting Afghanistan. His means would be blood and iron.

His ultimate goal was the reduction of the autonomous political and military power of three main elements: the eastern Pashtun tribes, his cousin Ishaq Khan, and the non-Sunnite groups in parts of the country that historically fell outside state control. Over the next fifteen years, aided by British subsidies that financed the creation of a powerful national army equipped with imported modern weapons or produced in his own factories, he would crush every element. In this modern army of his creation, the Amir assigned each regiment a mullah (as a chaplain), a hakim (physician), and a jarrah (surgeon). His troops were supplied with Martini-Henry and Snider rifles and with a variety of guns: Krupp, Maxim, Nordenfeldt, Hotchkiss, and others. They were provided with uniforms very similar to those of the Seaforth Highlanders who had accompanied General Roberts to Kabul.

Using the Anglo-Indian army as a model, he organised his army into three branches: artillery (field and mountain), cavalry, and infantry; with territorial divisions, field columns, brigades, and regimental units. The existing system of feudal levies was replaced with a single, central army, paid and controlled by the Amir. They even included military bands fashioned after those in the British army. By the middle of the 1880's, he had a standing army of 60,000 men and enough military stores and equipment to undertake effective military campaigns against recalcitrant tribes and non-Afghan ethnic groups. His goal was to turn this into a standing army one million men. His successor continues towards that goal.

The Amir described his task as putting

'…in order all those hundreds of petty chiefs, plunderers, robbers and cut-throats. This necessitated breaking down the feudal and tribal system and substituting one grand community under one law and one rule.’ - Amir 'Abd al-Rahman Khan

His 20-year reign would see over forty rebellions and near-constant warfare to consolidate the nation. Rebellions were punished by mass executions and resettlements, such as that of thousands of Ghilji Pashtun tribesmen, chief rivals of the dominant Durranis, to regions where they were neutralised in the midst of hostile Hazara, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Tajiks. This diluted Ghilji power in the south while enhancing Pashtun influence in the north. While in the south they had been rivals to the Durranis, in the north – placed amongst Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Hazara – their greater loyalty was to their Pashtun ethnicity. The Amir then mobilized the Ghiljis in a jihad against the heretical Shi'ite Hazara, whom they plundered, displaced and sometimes sold into slavery. Thus was tribe after tribe and ethnic group after ethnic group subdued.

The Ghiljis

The Ghiljis, whom the Amir allied with to defeat Ayyub Khan, rose up in revolt in 1886. In 1881, there were already signs of a strain on their relationship as the Amir had detained some of the Andar-Ghilji elders for their refusal to pay revenue arrears. Moreover, the Amir ordered the imprisonment of Mir Afzal Khan Hotak – a descendant of Mir Wais Khan Hotak. As the Hotak-Ghiljis wer considered the ruling Ghilji subdivision, this naturally inspired fury. The execution of the hero of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, Ghazi Jan Mohammad Khan Wardak - despite pleas from the influential Mulla Mushk-e-‘Alam to spare him – alienated the Mulla and added more fuel to the fire.

‘Three thousand men who took defense during the British occupation and endured hardship in protecting the honor and the country of Islam are today in prison in Kabul. Therefore all the people including me consider us in danger.’ - Mulla Mushk-e-‘Alam

The Amir attempted to placate the angry Mulla, arguing that he only arrested those who were guilty and that all he did was in line with the Shari’a. But the Mulla was not convinced. Though he died in 1886 at the age of 96, he left an increasingly discontented tribe behind.

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Ghilji Tribesmen, 1879-80

Even more serious were the subsequent taxes imposed on the tribe by the Amir. The new system of taxation, introduced to increase land revenue, meant that landowners were to pay a tax of one-third (se-kot) of the produce of land irrigated by streams (nahri), a tax of one-fifth (khums) on land irrigated by springs (chishmai), and a tithe ('ushr) on land irrigated by underground canals (karezi). The Amir also halted the customary allowances paid to the late Mulla Mushk-e-'Alam, and his son and successor Mulla 'Abd al-Karim. Not stopping there, he then made their rent-free land subject to the payment of revenue. In October of 1886, the Ghiljis rose up in revolt.

Despite an early victory for the rebels, the dashing General Ghulam Haydar Orakzay, the commander-in-chief (Sipah Salar), met and defeated them in late October, sending 2,000 heads back to Kabul where they were, in the fashion of their great father Timur-e-Lank, piled up in a tower of skulls (kala munar).

With discontent spreading all over the country, and with no support incoming from any part of society – whether the Durrani tribe or the religious establishment – the Amir was very much on his own. Mulla ‘Abd al-Karim, now one of the main leaders of the rebellion, declared him a kafir and the slave of a foreign government, a worshipper of himself and not glorious Allah. In 1887, the rebels had swollen from twenty-four thousand in March to nearly one-hundred thousand in April and once more found early success. However, they were unable to withstand Sipah Salar Ghulam Haydar’s forces and were once more defeated in various battles. By winter, the uprising had been defeated and the rebels disappeared.

Ayyub Khan, whom the rebels had called upon to become Amir, had made his way to the Afghan-Persian border. But due to a misadventure - involving him going in the wrong direction - he arrived in late September, by which time the uprising was over and the border had been fortified. The uprising resulted in the Amir actively seeking to impoverish and weaken the Ghiljis, along with their resettlement. The purpose of this was to ensure that never again would the Ghiljis rise up against the state. They never did so again.

The Mohmands and the Pacha

But the Ghiljis were not the first to meet with the Amir’s ire and desire to centralise the nation and crack the power of the tribes. The formidable Mohmands – split as they were into the Lower Mohmands of the fertile Peshawar plains and the Upper Mohmands of the agriculturally poor valleys and hills between the Kabul and Swat rivers – were the first to be targetted by the Amir.
While the Lower Mohmands were generally more peacable, the warlike Upper Mohmands were a problem. As guardians of the Khyber, the Upper Mohmands (the most influential amongst them being the khan of Lalpura), collected tolls on the Jalalabad-Peshawar road to Dakka, and levied dues on rafts on the Kabul River.

From 1881-82 the Amir gradually stripped the khan of Lalpura of his privileges by taking direct control over the road and, in 1883, confisfacted the Lalpura tolls. The Amir would go on to give him an allowance in return for his agreement to loyally serve the state and supply it with militias in times emergency. With no other option, the khan acquiesced to his overlord’s commands.
Likewise, the Pacha of the strategically important Konarr region, whose leader had sided with the British and been guaranteed safety by them, soon had their lands confiscated by the Amir. Their pro-British chief – hated by his people for his betrayal – was forced to escape to India where he lived until the Amir’s death in 1901, whereon he was permitted to return.

The Shinwarays and the Clash with the British

The Shinwarays of Shinwar, who kept the Khyber Pass open and levied tolls on the road to Peshawar, were initially treated with leniency. However, in 1882 the Amir’s stance changed and he garrisoned Fort Dakka. Following the imprisonment of a Shinwaray Jirga sent to the Amir, the Shinwarays rose up in a revolt that would not come to an end until 1892. This was, amongst other things, a response to the Amir’s imposition of a three-portion system of taxation on land (a se-kot) whereby landowners had to pay one-third of their revenue to the government. Ghulam Haydar Khan Orakzay soundly defeated them in 1883, and subsequent battles saw them routed again and again and their homes and crops burned until they took to the mountains and banditry.

‘We have no mind to return to our country, and we do not care for the amir. We will support ourselves by plunder and robbery.’ – Shinwaray elders to General Ghulam Haydar Orakzay, May 11 1885

In 1892, they were finally subjugated and the Amir moved on to extend his authority to the vast regions of Bajau, Dir, and Swat to the east of the Konarr valley. Up until then, these regions had been under the control of rebels (hence the name yaghistan, land of rebels). Various khans warred over the region and it was relatively easy for the Amir to side with one side over the other. Before the Amir could advance any further, however, the Government of India informed him that such would be considered an act of war. For by then, the British government had devised its Forward Policy of the 1890s which meant that those territories could not be under the Amir’s control. The Durand Agreement would come into force in 1893, denying Afghanistan large swathes of land and Pashtun manpower that now lay on the British side. It would prove to be an ever difficult area for the British to control, and the border would continue to be problematic even up to 1908-09, when major raids from the Afghan side were carried out.

In 1892 the Amir also tried to retake Kurma by proxy – which had been temporarily handed over to the British by the Treaty of Gandamak, before the British annexed it for good – only for his plan to meet with failure in October of 1892. The Afridis, the most well-known guardians of the Khyber, were also in frequent contact with the Amir in the years following the Second Anglo-Afghan War, showing interest in pledging allegiance to the Amir. However, being on the British side by that point, there did not appear to be anything the Amir could do to extend his power over their lands – especially since it included Khyber Pass regions the British had explicitly seized.

Ishaq Khan's Rebellion

In 1888,the Amir’s cousin and close friend, Mohammad Ishaq Khan, who was the governor of Afghan Turkestan, rose up in revolt. The region, important for its agriculture and pastures as well as its geographic location that directly connects Central Asia to the regions south of the Hindu Kush and South Asia, had proven an important source of power for the Amir. Relations between Ishaq Khan and the Amir had begun to show signs of strain from 1881, when the Amir refused to allow his cousin independent rule over Turkestan. He did, however, give him near-unlimited powers as governor and entrust him with matters he did not entrust to other governors. Following the subjugation of Maymana, Ishaq Khan expected to be given jurisdiction over it as it was traditionally part of Turkestan. But the Amir did no such thing.

The governor, a pious man who was an adherent of the Naqshabandi Sufi order, was extremely popular with his subjects. His administration of the region was far more gentle than the Amir, who was stern and rigid. His army was large – due to the ever-present Russian threat – and was well-paid (largely due to the Amir’s contributions, meaning the governor did not have to over-tax and thus earn the ire of his subjects). With his constant rejection of the Amir’s summons to Kabul (most likely to dismiss him from his post) those loyal to the governor persuaded him to take up arms and end the tyranny of the Amir. The leaders of the Naqshbandiyya order, in particular, assured him that he had their support and that the founder of their order, Khwaja Baha al-din Naqshband (at this point dead for centuries), had bestowed the throne on him. Allegiance was pledged to him and the Friday religious sermon (khutba) was performed in his name.

In Maymana and Andkhoy, however, things did not go as planned for Ishaq. While General Sharbat of Maymana had joined in the rebellion, the army and civilians remained loyal to the Amir and seized him. The elders of Andkhoy, meanwhile, reiterated their loyalty to the Amir. This Ishaq's north-western flank insecure. Despite this, he decided to begin the march against Kabul, and managed to take control of Kunduz, Badakshan and Khanabad. Northern Afghanistan, bar Maymana, thus fell to him. The Amir, who was in fact exceedingly ill at this time (that cursed royal illness, gout!), acted with swiftness and determination despite it all. He successfully managed to obtain a fatwa (religious legal ruling) from the ulema declaring Ishaq Khan a rebel, and on its basis called up all the tribes to act against him. Following this, the trusty Ghulam Haydar Khan Orakzay (now deputy Commander-in-Chief, Na’ib Sipah Salar) was dispatched to deal with the rebels.

When he arrived at Ghaznigak, Na’ib Sipah Salar Orakzay had a force of thirteen regiments of infantry, four of cavalry, and twenty-six field guns, with an unknown number of irregulars – thus outnumbering the rebel force led by the rebellious Sipah Salar Mohammad Hussayn Khan. The outcome of the battle was indecisive, and it was only thanks to a final charge by Orakzay that the Amir’s force was not completely crushed. A later miscommunication to Ishaq Khan meant that he, thinking his army had submitted, fled away over the Amu Darya never to return. This would be the last attempt by an ambitious member of the dynasty to take power by force. However, this was essentially a clash between Ishaq Khan’s traditionalist desire to see a more decentralised rule of the nation and the Amir’s desire for a strongly centralised nation under his autocratic will. As a result of his victory, mo more would over-powerful governors be permitted to hold hereditary title over regions.
The Amir would settle in Mazar-i-Sharif for the next year and take punitive action against those who thought to rise up against him. Many Pashtuns from the densely populated regions south of the Hindu Kush would be encouraged to relocate to the sparsely populated areas in the north, cultivating the state-owned land on favourable terms. This would eventually lead to the area’s demographics altering to the extent of its becoming an integral part of the nation rather than a mere dependency.

The Hazara

The Iron Amir’s wars would continue to no end – in 1888 he would remove the Shi’ite Shaykh ‘Ali Hazara bandits and disperse them throughout the realm, and from 1891-93 he would subjugate the Hazara of the central highland, resettling Ghilji and Durrani tribesmen on the vast pasturelands. Large swathes of Hazara land was seized and sold favourably to various Pashtuns who would go on to graze their animals there.
Considering the mirs and religious elders to be both enemies of the Hazara themselves and of all Afghans (due to the stunning level of control they had over ‘common’ Hazara), the Amir ordered that these mirs and religious elders be separated from the commoners and settled elsewhere. Land seized from Hazara mirs was claimed by Hazara commoners – who claimed that the mirs had in fact taken the land from them. The Amir permitted the land to return to these original owners. The Amir also attempted to convert these Hazara to Sunnite Islam, in the interest of uniting his subjects religiously. However, the Hazara relied on their religious concept of taqiyya which allowed them to profess any faith while concealing their true Shi’ite affiliation. The Amir, it would seem, feared the influence of Shi’ite Persian ulema on the Hazara and wished to cut-off that potential threat permanently – it was, however, unsuccessful.
Hazaras were for some time sold as slaves throughout the Emirate – causing the Amir’s coffers to bulge – until various ulema declared that the sale of Muslims as slaves was prohibited and it was brought to an end – however, Hazras already sold are effectively still in bondage to this day (1909).

Thus, the Hazaras were crushed for the first time in their history - but their subjugation also ended their centuries-old isolation. They would go on to mingle with their neighbours and settle in cities, particularly Kabul. In Kabul, while most Hazara men did menial jobs, the women secured places with wealthy families as wives, concubines, and domestic helpers. Enterprising Hazara businessmen flourished, and later, in Habibullah's reign, their children studied in government-run educational institutes and entered state employment. Today (1909) the Hazaras constitute a considerable portion of the permanent residents of the city of Kabul.

The Kafiris

The pacification of the country was completed by the conquest of a remote mountain people in the north-east, the non-Muslim Kalash or Kafirs of Kafiristan (Land of the Unbelievers), who were forcibly converted to Islam. Their land was renamed Nuristan (Land of Light). Islam had, however, already made some inroads into Kafiristan – these converts were known as shaykhs or neemchas – who maintained cordial relations with other Kafirs.

The invasion was preceded by negotiations intended to keep the Kafirs relaxed – and in many ways, this was successful. In the winter of 1895, the Amir’s forces invaded Kafiristan from all directions with the purpose of forcing the submission of the Kafirs and their conversion to Islam. The expedition was to prove costly, but by the end of 1896 the invasion was completed, and their conversion to Islam began. Mullas were sent in, protected by armed militias, and mosques were constructed where the fundamentals of Hanafite Sunnite Islam were taught them.

The various effigies of Kafiri gods were collected and sent to Jalalabad and Kabul, where they forever disappeared. Although the elderly were broken-hearted at the mutilation of their way of life and religion, and though there were indeed a few ugly incidents, the young Kafirs took well to Islam and are said to have soon become staunch adherents of the Muslim faith. The Amir further ordered that all Kafiri slaves were to be emancipated – simple enough, as he had already declared slavery illegal – and made their enslavement punishable with a fine of seven thousand rupees - an exorbitant amount. Kafirs who had resisted were deported to Paghman – a place that rather resembled their homeland – and some ten thousand Kafirs, now Nuristanis, were recruited into the Amir’s army. This small ethnic group has retained an important military role in the Afghan armyto this day, being singularly loyal to the Amir.

Despite the trauma caused by the destruction of a religion and way of life that was as old as civilisation in the Indus valley, the Amir’s actions meant that the Kafirs were for the first time exposed to their neighbours and soon became an integral part of the Muslim Afghan nation. With their coming into the fold of Islam, all previous hostility to them melted away, and they could partake of Afghan life. Three roads were built to allow trade directly from Afghanistan to the new Nuristan, and it was hoped that these roads would mean that any Russian attempt at an invasion of India would bypass Afghanistan completely and use these roads into India instead.

During an era when the Christian powers of the West dominated the Muslim world, the conquest of Kafiristan increased the Amir’s prestige among Muslims everywhere. In Afghanistan, he was given the title of the Light of the Nation and Religion (Zia al-Millat wa al-Din) and of Ghazi. Moreover, the prestige of the Amir amongst the Muslims of Russian Central Asia and British India reached its highest point – to the extent that it was proclaimed that the transfer of the Caliphate from Istanbul to Kabul was merely a matter of time! Kafiristanis who escaped during the invasion were later resettled by the British in Chitral and would go on to embrace Islam. They are today known as Bashgulay shaykhs.

The Great Game Continued

On the international stage, the Russians had subdued the Khanate of Khiva in 1881 – completely massacring the 6,000 defenders of the Tekke Turcoman fortress of Goek Tepe – and then advanced to the Oasis of Merv in 1884. In early 1885, the Russian army - fresh from the conquest of Merv - struck at the Panjdeh Oasis just north of Herat, defeating a brave defence by a smaller Afghan force.

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The Panjdeh Incident
The pastoral Turkmen who inhabited the Panjdeh had pledged allegiance to the Amir in 1882 and agreed to pay a tithe (‘ushr) as revenue. Dependent, as it had been for centuries, on Herat and Maymana, a subgovernor (hakim) was placed in charge of it and a military contingent stationed there. With the Russian advance against Panjdeh, many elders from Central Asia arrived at the Amir’s court and promised him that should he declare a jihad against the Russians, the whole of Central Asia would rise with him to throw off their yoke. Indeed, the idea of raising a rebellion against Russia and becoming a second Timur-e-Lank appealed to the Amir even up until 1889. He did no such thing, however, and ordered his troops to withdraw once the Russian advance became fact.

The Amir had, since 1881, called on Britain to settle the matter of his northern boundaries with Russia and had, again and again, warned of the Russian advances in the region – but to no avail. When, on March 30, 1885, Panjdeh fell to the Russians, a crisis ensued. Britain – in line with its promises to the Amir – informed the Russians that the attack was considered a threat to British interests and any further advances would be considered a declaration of war. The occupation was completed in 1886 and Britain’s promises to the Amir proved hollow.
Eventually, an Anglo-Russian boundary commission resolved the issue and the western Russo-Afghan border was determined as a line stretching between the Amu Darya and the Hari Rud Rivers. However, this was done without consulting with the Amir, and so furious was he that he refused to allow the British commission to travel to the relevant areas through Afghanistan. The commission, under Colonel Ridgeway, then had to travel through a barren and inhospitable route along the Persian-Afghan border, mainly through Sistan. Naturally, Anglo-Afghan relations soured.

The Amir would clash once more with the Russians when he secured control over Shighnan and Roshan, traditionally considered part of Afghan Badakhshan, by dismissing its governor and appointing state officials to oversee it in 1883. The Amir went on to fortify the region across the Bartang-Murghab-Aksu river as far east as Surmatash. This alarmed the Russians, who immediately contacted the British and notified them of a purported breach of treaty by the Amir. They purported that an 1873 border agreement between Russia and Britain specified the Afghan border to be at the Panj river. The Afghans rejected this and insisted that the border was in fact on the Bartang-Murghab-Aksu – and indeed, the final dispatch accepted by the Russians regarding the matter at the time did not mention the Panj at all. In the early 1890s, with diplomacy failing them, the Russians attacked.
In 1892, a contingent led by Colonel Yanoff massacred Afghan frontier guards at Surmatash. The following year, a contingent under Colonel Yannovsky entered Shighnan proper but was repulsed by an Afghan force that had already repulsed a Chinese contingent in Alichur, north of Surmatash. The British, again, did not come to the Amir’s aid and he was forced to evacuate the areas he held.

In 1892 it was agreed that the border would be the Panj river. The eastern border was finally determined by another boundary commission in 1895-96 which forced upon the Amir sovereignty over the ‘Wakhan Corridor’ in the High Pamirs. The Amir refused, saying that he had enough troubles with his own people without also having to deal with the Kyrgyz bandits in the Wakhan and Pamirs. But, more importantly, like the Wakhan, the Russians had recognised Shighnan and Roshan as rightful Afghan land in 1873, and now they reneged. How was he to know that this was not yet another Russian ploy? His lands had been attacked, the Russians had invaded, and the British had – as with Panjdeh in 1885 – not honoured their promise to defend Afghanistan.

He had no say in the matter, however, and for the first time in its history, Afghanistan had a common border with China.

The Durand Line

The Forward Policy of the 1890s called yet again for a ‘Scientific Frontier’ for the British Raj. This meant that the British had to be in a position where they could swiftly occupy Kabul-Ghazni-Kandahar should the Russians advance or should Afghanistan experience instability. In short, it was necessary to fix the Indian-Afghan border. While the Amir had skillfully made use of delaying tactics up until 1892, the crisis with Russia eventually forced him to meet with a small British mission, led by one Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, in Kabul on November 12, 1893. The result of the mission was the settlement of the northern issue with Russia, as well as the creation of what came to known as the Durand Agreement, or the Kabul Convention of 1893.

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The Durand Line, in red

The agreement itself did not state that the so-called Durand line is, in fact, a boundary, but merely the cut-off point beyond which the British would not interfere, and beyond which the Amir would not meddle. To this day, Afghanistan does not recognise the Durand line as an official boundary and continues to lay claim to all its rightful territories and dependencies beyond the line. Rather than an official treaty endorsed by the governments of both nations, the Durand Agreement was an informal understanding between a British official and the Amir – it was neither endorsed by the British government at the time nor did the Amir consult the leading elders of the Afghan nation.
To recognise it as more than an informal, personal understanding - as all dealings between the Amir and the Raj essentially were - would be to do great injustice to the Afghans who dwell either side of the line and must necessarily cross it on a regular basis as part of their everyday life. Signed at a point when the Russian bear was advancing into Afghanistan, it has become clearer and clearer with time that this agreement was part of a greater Anglo-Russian plot to weaken and restrict the glorious Emirate of Afghanistan – on one side putting pressure on the Amir by denying him the resources he bought, and on the other marching into his rightful northern territories. It is quite clear that the cornered Amir was under undue influence when he was forced to sign such a humiliating agreement.Or at least, that's what the Afghan government argues.

Disagreements as to what the substance of the agreement had been has also raised problems; for instance, the Amir insisted that he had not agreed to the surrender of the entirety of Mohmand country, nor had he agreed to surrender the Bashgul valley – so strongly did the Amir insist on this that the Viceroy immediately wrote to him with an apology admitting that ‘…it was an unfortunate error.’ The Durand line boundary commission also never divided the Mohmand country – which spreads all the way to Peshawar. The matter of where the Indian boundary falls remains to this day a cause for trouble, and the boundary itself remains controversial amongst all Afghans (see: Mohmand uprising of 1897-8, Mahsude Blockade 1900-2, Zekke Khel & Mohmand uprising 1908-present). The Amir, at the time of his death in 1901, had begun the construction of a road all the way through Mohmand country to Peshawar.

‘…the tribes on the Indian side are not to be considered as within British territory. They are simply under our influence in the technical sense of the term, that is to say, so far as the amir is concerned and so far as they submit to our influence, or we exert it.’ – Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, 1897

The Amir, while he would not interfere militarily beyond the Durand, continued to influence the various Afghan tribes there in different ways – emissaries were sent over the line often to maintain Afghan influence with the tribes, jirgas were invited to Kabul from the Indian side and given handsome gratuities on their departure, amongst various other things. In the end, the Durand line was not a border, it was simply the extension of British authority into Afghan territory and not the Indian frontier. As far as the Amir was concerned, the natural and demographic border of Afghanistan with India lay, without a doubt, at the Indus.

‘…though England does not want any piece of Afghanistan (as she constantly claims) still she never loses a chance of getting one – and this friend has taken more than Russia has!’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan

The agreement left a profound mark on the people of the region. Preventing the Amir from extending control over the vast territory, and the British inability to administer it, created a no man's land. By introducing the Durand Line, the British have caused the region to remain isolated and its inhabitants economically undeveloped, resulting in the retention of a medieval way of life to this day.

Creating the Afghan State

The 1890s, following Russian aggressions and British hindrance of the Afghan attempt at unity, saw a natural rise in anti-British and anti-Russian rhetoric in the Emirate. One of the reasons behind the 1897 Mohmand uprising was, in fact, a religiously inflammatory, anti-British and anti-Russian pamphlet written by the Amir, which inspired the tribals to rebel. Fearful that an invasion could come any day, he adamantly continued his rhetoric in order to prepare his people for the coming clash with the infidel empires to his north and south. For example, the Amir once demanded a mullah be executed for preaching that Muslims must regard Christians as brothers since they were a ‘people of the book.’ The first council of clerics refused, finding him innocent of heresy. A second panel called to try the case again could only muster two clerics willing to uphold the death penalty. One would have probably sufficed, as the Amir immediately used this minority opinion to have the offending cleric stoned to death.

The Amir’s subsidy, raised to 1.8 million rupees in 1893 when the Durand Line was demarcated, was again raised to 1.85 million due to the imposition of the Wakhan Corridor on the Amir. While this subsidy was bound to injure the Amir’s image, he would insist in many of his private durbars (courts) that these grants were, in fact, a poll tax (jizya) imposed by him on the British, amongst other justifications.

‘…this grant of theirs is not a favor or an obligation, but the security and safety of India is in view. The English do not give a single cowry to any without motive. In the second place, I am the shield of their country, and on account of me, they are secure from the Russian attack. If my government remains stable, I go on in this way, taking rifles and money from the English; and having made my foundation firm, I shall be able to fight the Russians and the English.’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan in a private durbar, 5 April 1887

These subsidies partially financed recruitment of conscripts as troops accountable to the Amir alone. Village and clan elders were also obliged to supply the Amir with one eligible fighting man from groups of eight households, with the other seven households taxed to provide for his support. Armed with his powers of coercion, the Amir was also able to expand his domestic tax base by levying direct taxes on landowners. This was imposed on tribes and regions that had previously been taxed only indirectly, if at all. In 1889, the Amir had an annual income estimated at around fourteen million rupees. By 1891 the figure had risen to fifty million rupees.

The Amir also sought to legitimise his power Islamically, taking up the role of imam, or spiritual leader of the Afghan millat (the geographical sub-division of the wider Muslim umma). As the divinely guided imam, he was owed absolute obedience and was called upon to strengthen the nation against the possibility of invasion by the infidels. All had a duty to support his efforts – for instance, by paying taxes.

‘For the maintenance of a Kingdom and the strength and prosperity of a nation, religion, too, is a very good factor. A nation without religious belief would soon become demoralised and begin to decline until it fell altogether.’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan

To further legitimise his Islamic credentials, the Amir declared himself a mujtahid, one able to independently interpret the Shari’a, thus depriving the ulema of their absolute authority in religious matters. He took direct control of the waqf (religious endowments) which had for long ensured the economic independence of clerics and set up ministerial departments to oversee the administration of justice and education – traditionally monopolised by the clerics. This effectively turned the clerical classes into paid servants of the state. The Amir declared that mullahs must be licensed – no unlicensed mullah could get a salary, and anyone caught carrying out the functions of a mullah without a license would be punished. The Amir then set up religious schools where people could learn what they needed to pass the test. Those who studied at religious seminaries in the capital, which were built and watched over by the Amir and his high officials, didn’t have to take the test. Their diploma alone got them a license. Diplomas from prestigious Islamic universities outside Afghanistan were also accepted as proof of religious competence As such, the Amir was also able to ensure their numbers were managed at all times. The Amir thus succeeded in achieving a threefold control over the religious establishment: he preempted the right to interpret Islam; for all practical purposes he made the mullahs bureaucrats; he checked their powers and influence by imposing procedural examinations.

Centralising all departments of government under his control, the Amir ensured that his eldest son, Habibullah, was educated in the art of government and put him in charge of various affairs of state. Loyal subordinates were promoted without prejudice as to their social background (indeed, even if they were slaves or former slaves) and a network of spies and informers was created that ensured he was aware of all intrigues taking place. Borrowing from the traditional state organisation of the Ottoman Empire, the Amir created an elite class of bureaucrats dependent on him alone and detached from their tribal and ethnic affiliations. These slave-boys (ghulam bache) were brought from areas forcibly subjugated or from leading non-Pashtun families who were, like the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire, trained to man the bureaucracy and officer the army. These were often married off to women of the ruling class to enforce political loyalty and family ties.

The Amir kept his own sons at court and also had other leading notables reside in Kabul – physically removed from their power-bases and ethnic or tribal forces. Sons of influential families in the provinces were also brought to court (ensuring their fathers behaved) and trained to serve the state.

As a gesture of respect to traditional Pashtun governance, the Amir created a constitutional government of a sort in the form of a Loya Jirga (National Assembly) consisting of three categories of representatives: sardars (aristocrats, chiefly members of the royal family or clan), khawanin mulki (commoners, mainly khans or landed proprietors), and mullahs (religious representatives). This acted as an advisory body to the Amir. The selection of the members of this assembly, which had no executive or legislative power, was subject to the Amir's approval. He had no intention of sharing his powers with such a body – its sole function, aside from symbolising and promoting unity under the monarchy, was to serve in a consultative capacity to help the Amir gather war supplies and advise him in various state activities. The Amir also established a selected executive body (Khilwat) as a supreme council or cabinet, but it was equally powerless. There was no equivalent of a prime minister, and the Khilwat could not give advice to the Amir unless he requested it. The Khilwat's only function was to execute his will. It was not, nor was it intended to be, answerable to the Loya Jirga.

In conjunction with all this, the Amir established a far-reaching spy network (the kotwali) that also functioned as a police force to subjugate suspected opponents and uncooperative officials. (A regular police force, the Afghan National Police, had already been established in 1747). Noncompliant Pashtun leaders were exiled. The manner in which this worked was that kotwalis had to, among their many functions, to collect taxes from villages. Each village elected its most respectable and senior figure to the position of kalantar, who represented the village to the state – particularly, to the kotwalis. The kalantar was expected to provide the village's taxes as well as information on all villagers. If the kalantar failed in this, he was taken and punished. If the kotwalis failed, they too were punished. Across the nation, roads were safer than they had ever been before, and this police force meant law and order could be maintained.

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Afghan National Policemen, 1879-80

Punishment of criminals was swift and brutal – robbers were hung in cages at the crime scene and left to perish of cold and hunger, criminals were tortured and stoned to death, and the ears of unjust traders were nailed to the doors of their shops. Nothing less could have welded the Afghans into the semblance of a nation.

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The Iron Cage, a warning to all evildoers

European engineers were tentatively introduced, and they built workshops – foremost amongst them being the Masheen Khana where thousands of Afghans worked (at the height of the Amir’s reign, Afghanistan – due to the Masheen Khana and other such workshops – was producing on average as many guns as any European power, enough to put at least one rifle in the hands of every adult male in the country), and advised also on irrigation methods. Furthermore, essential means of communication were introduced, along with light industry and commerce as well as certain preliminary welfare services – health and education in particular.

The primary purpose of the workshops and the other small-scale industries that were established was to meet military needs, but they also served as a source of revenue and prestige for the Amir. By closely linking the introduction of European technology to the country's military requirements, he was able to overcome strong anti-European and traditionalist opposition to modernist measures. He persuaded the opponents of technological change that the defence and self-sufficiency of the nation were essential to the well-being and independence of Muslims in Afghanistan.

An Englishman, Mr (later Sir) Thomas Salter Pyne, was employed by the Amir and successfully established a number of state-owned workshops in Kabul.

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Sir Thomas Salter Pyne

Before long, sawmills, steam hammers, and lathes were producing a variety of military and non-military articles. The greatest emphasis was placed on military commodities, as that was the official and primary task of the workshops. Some of the products turned out were Martini-Henry and Snider rifles, cartridges, gunpowder, and musical instruments for the military bands. The output of cartridges was variously estimated at between 3,000 and 20,000 a day; the weekly output of rifles was 175, that of field guns two. By 1893, Afghanistan's small war industry had grown to the point where it was capable of casting some 50 muzzle- and breech-loading field guns. The workshops gradually enlarged their field of operations, engaging in such paramilitary and non-military activities as bootmaking, leather-stitching, soap production, and candlemaking. New machinery was imported, including stamps and dies for the mint and tanning and dyeing equipment. The workshops were eventually capable of producing carpets, paper, glass, agricultural implements, needles, and even kilns.

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Though a devout Muslim, the Amir even successfully established a monopoly over the production of wine, whisky, and brandy which were exported to India. Besides Pyne, he employed 14 Englishmen, including experts in mining (Middleton), cartridge-making (Edwards), mechanical engineering (Stewart), minting (McDermot and Cameron), and tanning (Tasker and Thornton). He also employed a geologist (Griesbach), a studmaster (Collins), and even a piano tuner (Rich). He employed some British technicians and experts to assist in establishing small industrial projects, like a printing firm. His most important industrial project was, as mentioned, the small-arms factory, known as Masheen Khana, which he built in Kabul. However, the Amir’s arms factories – which produced the bulk of the weapons for his army – could not operate without importing iron from India, despite Afghanistan having much vaster ore deposits on its own territories (a fact the Amir was well aware of). He was simply too paranoid to allow foreigners access to Afghanistan’s resources.

One area in which Amir 'Abd Rahman Khan made progress was the field of public health. He brought a number of English professionals into the country, among them two physicians (Drs. John Gray and Lillias Hamilton), a veterinarian (Clements), a registered nurse (Mrs. Daly), and a surgeon-dentist (O'Meara). He also hired a number of Indian hospital assistants. The first public hospital in Afghanistan, a dispensary, was opened in Kabul in 1895, and the first European-trained Afghan dentist, Sufi Abdul Hak, started a practice in Kabul in this period. A few rudimentary military hospitals were opened to provide shelter, food, medicine, and treatment for the Afghan soldiers. European drugs were imported from India, and vaccination against smallpox was introduced under the supervision of Dr. Hamilton, who compiled a pamphlet on the vaccine for the use of the local hakims.

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Surgeons and Physicians of Kabul

As a sanitary measure, the Amir had public latrines built in Kabul and provided donkeys to cart the night soil from the city. Health standards were also improved to some degree by the production of large quantities of soap in the Amir's workshops.

Lord Curzon, who visited the Amir for two weeks in 1894, would go on to write:

‘In the thirteen years that elapsed before my visit, the Amir had consolidated his rule over one of the most turbulent peoples in the world by force alike of character and of arms, and by a relentless savagery that ended by crushing all opposition out of existence, and leaving him the undisputed but dreaded master of the entire country. No previous Sovereign had ridden the wild Afghan steed with so cruel a bit, none had given so large a measure of unity to the kingdom; there was not in Asia or in the world a more fierce or uncompromising despot. ... [But] this terribly cruel man could be affable, gracious, and considerate to a degree. This man of blood loved scents and colours and gardens and singing birds and flowers. This intensely practical being was a prey to mysticism, for he thought he saw dreams and visions.’ – Lord Curzon of Kedlestone, A Viceroy’s India: Leaves from Lord Curzon’s Notebooks

Lord Curzon humorously notes also, that on one occasion the Amir ‘put a man to death unjustly, i.e. on false evidence. Thereupon he fined himself 6,000 rupees, and paid the sum to the widow, who for her part was delighted at being simultaneously rid of a husband and started again in life.'

In his later reign, with the nation firmly under his control, the Amir began making braver overtures and expressing his independence from Britain – communicating independently with the Tsar of Russia, the Shah of Persia, and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The British were somewhat concerned, but not enough to compel them to act.

Impressed with Caliph-Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid’s autocratic tendencies and the police state he had created, the Amir did not lose an opportunity to praise him. The Afghans in general looked to the Ottomans and respected them greatly. And so, many policies which the Amir would have otherwise been hard-pressed to push through became possible due to the fact that he was merely following in the Caliph’s footsteps, as it were. The Amir was in constant communication with the Sultan, who even gave him the title of Zia al-Din, Ghazi (Light of the Religion, Ghazi). Out of respect for the Ottoman Sultan’s authority, the Amir refused to take up the title of Sultan for himself in 1896. So friendly were relations that many speculated of a secret alliance that had been struck between them. In response to these rumours, the Amir responded:

‘Up to the present [1898], there has been no intention on our part either to cause the khutba [Friday sermon] to be delivered or the coin struck in the sultan’s name, but should we wish to consider this with His Majesty, we are not afraid of anyone to do so. Nothing could be better for the two governments which belong to the same religion and sect than to combine with each other.’ – Firman dispatched to Mashhad by Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman, 1898

In 1901, the Amir departed this world. As a testament to his achievements, his son – Habibullah Khan – rose to the throne without any disturbances. The Friday khutbah was read in his name on October 4, 1901, and the new Amir informed Britain of his father's death and his own accession to power. For the first time in Afghan history, there was no war of succession. Though his final wish – complete Afghan independence from Britain – did not come about, he left Habibullah Khan with the strong foundations of a state bureaucracy and provincial governors appointed on the basis of their loyalty.
By 1909, this state bureaucracy had developed, and would continue developing, into a new form that was independent of the tribal and ethnic networks of power and authority. These tribal and ethnic networks - the traditional core of rural society - are amongst the greatest forces inhibiting the development of a modern nation-state in the Emirate in 1909. But the fact of a completely independent ruling class and bureaucracy, loyal to the Amir and nation, means that, for the first time in its history, Afghanistan is in a position enabling it to pursue stable gradual modernisation.

On the village level, as mentioned, villages chose from amongst themselves a kalantar who represented them to the state. The role of this kalantar became rather ambiguous, especially since he is personally responsible for collecting things like taxes from his village – if anything went wrong, or if insufficient taxes were collected, then the punishment fell on his shoulders. These kalantars could also, if they proved themselves, secure appointments to higher positions in local administration – thus enabling them to secure influence and prosperity for their family if they worked well. In such a way, tribalism is being combatted at its most basic level.

The Iron Amir took such measures that led to the enlargement of the standing army, expansion of the bureaucracy and the intelligence service, overhaul of the system of taxation in order to increase revenue, development of state monopoly on foreign trade, and the enforcement of central government authority by a police state. His later reign, particulary after 1896 and the institution of the Jashn-e-Mutafiqqiyya (Festival of Unanimity), saw the introduction of programmes designed to once more arm the entire nation – this time on the Amir’s terms. Centres were set up across the nation where men able to carry arms were trained in the military arts and armed with rifles – which the government had in abundance. The Amir’s previous policies were lightened, and it appeared his mission to tame and ride the Afghan steed had at last succeeded. Having completed his divine mission, the Iron Amir allowed his sleepless eyes to close and released the reins that another may ride the horse he tamed.

‘You call me an Iron Amir, but I rule an Iron people.’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan

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1901-Present​

To Run Circles Around the Viceroy

On his accession to the throne in 1901, Lord Curzon wrote to Habibullah Khan requesting a meeting to discuss Anglo-Afghan commitments. The Amir and assured him that he would be adhering to all existing obligations.
On February 7, 1902, Lord Curzon again urged in a letter that a friendly discussion was necessary so that the Anglo-Afghan alliance might continue even stronger. But the Amir considered the 1880 Agreement quite strong enough and reiterated that he would abide by it. He saw no need for revisions and expressed the hope that nothing of the kind was intended.
On June 6 Curzon wrote once more, more bluntly this time. He said the late Amir had at times ‘misinterpreted’ the agreement and, therefore, he wanted to know the new Amir's interpretation. The Viceroy claimed he did not mention the 1880 Agreement because that agreement was ‘personal’ and did not necessarily apply to the Amir's sons and successors. Hence, neither a subsidy nor protection could be claimed by Habibullah Khan until a new arrangement had been concluded. Curzon, it would seem, wished to extract further concessions the new Amir.

The intelligent Habibullah deduced from this that he thus had no obligations under the treaty and could if he wished open direct lines of communication between his nation and others without prior British permission. (Not that he did not do so anyway!). Moreover, the personal nature of all past agreements undid the Durand Line agreement also, and he was thus not bound by it. The British insisted that the Amir accept demands for rail links from Quetta-Pishin-Chaman via Kandahar to Kabul, as well as telegraph links; the rectification of the Afghan boundary in the area of Chaman and Shurawak and the evacuation of Chageh by the Afghans; abandonment of his ‘intrigues’ with the frontier tribes (such as recruiting them to the Afghan army); and the removal of obstacles to commerce between Afghanistan and India. Habibullah responded to this with the insistence that a new treaty should recognise his royal sovereign status over both Afghanistan and its dependencies – indicating that the Amir, like his father, did not recognise the Durand line as an international frontier.

In 1903 a series of incidents occurred on the Afghan border. Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Yate, visiting the frontier, managed to ‘innocently’ gallop into Afghanistan where he was swiftly arrested by Afghan soldiers and kept prisoner for about two weeks. The Government of India planned retaliatory action, including the arrest of Afghan merchants in India and other military measures, but Yate was released and returned to India. The Amir offered no apology for the incident and proclaimed that the Afghan official responsible for the arrest should be praised, not punished. Colonel Yate, the Amir claimed, was in unrecognisable attire and was very lucky not to have been caught by tribals of the Achakzay clan.

At last, after the Japanese defeat by the Russians in 1904 sent the Afghan government scrambling for assurances of British support, the Amir accepted to meet with a mission in Kabul so as to negotiate. The Dane Mission would arrive on December 12, 1904, and was received by the Amir in a private interview – along with the Amir's Khilwat – on December 15. The negotiations would continue until the end of March 1905. Ensuring the permanent nature of the agreement was one fo the Amir’s foremost priorities – he did not wish for the British government to come renegotiating and attempting to get concessions out of every new Amir.
The negotiations swiftly met with hurdles and conflicting interests – Amir Habibullah wanted to discuss how Britain would assist against a Russian advance going forward, Dane, on the other hand, insisted on negotiating treaty terms the Amir considered long settled. Since Afghanistan had gained nothing by her friendship with Britain but the enmity of Russia, he said, Britain must contribute to Afghanistan's defences by agreeing to a plan of military action. The Amir presented Dane with what he viewed as necessary going forward in an unsigned memorandum on January 1, 1905.

'British aid in arms was to be rendered in a predetermined quantity and with a definite schedule of delivery. For the defense of Turkestan, British military assistance should proceed by way of Chitral, to which place the Government of India was to build a railroad. The Afghan Government would agree to construct, with British assistance, a connecting road which would lead into Afghanistan. Britain should agree to furnish Afghanistan with ships for the Oxus [Amu Darya] Riverand assist in the training of Afghan sailors, ‘so that the English can work on their own ships.’ At each port on the Oxus there should be constructed a fort (mahkama) which would be garrisoned by Afghans.
In the Herat area, the Afghan government would agree to build, with British help, a strong fortification at Hashtadan. This fort would be held and defended by Afghan troops until a British railroad was constructed to this point; then it would be handed over to the Government of India. If Herat were attacked by the Russians, British troops were to come to the city's defense, whereas the Afghan troops at Herat would assist the British against an attack at Hashtadan.
For the defense of Farah, the Afghans were prepared to build, with British assistance, a fort in the Sistan area, near the Indian boundary, and hand it over to Britain. In case of a Russian attack, the British should fight in the south from the direction of Nushki and Chaghai, while the Afghans would fight from the north. If the enemy arrived at Kandahar, the British should assist from the direction of Chaman, while the Afghans would fight within the limits of Qalat, Muqur, and Ghazni. Afghan troops would further hold the mountain passes, assisted by the Afghan tribes, and British troops would attack by way of Paiwar and the eastern tracts of Afghanistan.
The Afghan Government would permit the government of India to construct a railroad which would start at the Indian border and travel along the Perso-Afghan boundary northward to Hashtadan. The land for the railroad would be ceded by Afghanistan, but the entire area was to remain under Afghan jurisdiction. Fortifications should also be built in various places in the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan would accept British assistance under the following conditions: (1) as the Afghans gave their lives, the British should give their arms; (2) if the Afghans gave territory, the British should give territory in exchange; (3) Britain should provide the funds for the construction of forts and roads; and (4) if Britain wanted Afghanistan to increase her troops, she should increase her monetary assistance in proportion to the increase desired.' - A historian's summary

These proposals were unacceptable to the British, and by February 2, 1905, a deadlock had been reached. The Amir refused to proceed until the British accepted the binding nature of the 1880 Treaty, unlimited Afghan arms imports, as well as the conditions in his memorandum. While the British seriously considered breaking off negotiations at this point, the looming Russian threat convinced them otherwise. Things were eased somewhat when the Amir backed down on the military aspects of his memorandum and it was agreed that they would be discussed at some point in the future. It did not appear like the Amir wished to discuss them further, however.

‘…dear and beloved friend, Louis W. Dane… from the expressions and statements used by you yesterday, it has become thoroughly apparent and clear that your Government has no intentions whatever to deal with Afghanistan with equity and justice, and that whatever is said or stated is all by way of high-handedness and force.’ – Amir Habibullah in his letter announcing withdrawal of proposal for military cooperation, January 31 1905

The treaty was at long last signed on March 21, 1905, with the British conceding to the Amir’s other demands while the Amir recognised the British government’s control over his external relations. The Amir’s intransigence continued even when ink had wet paper, however.

‘As the Amir was affixing his signature, he shook some ink from his pen over the English copy of the parchment and exclaimed: “It is spoilt; we must write out other treaties.” Dane, a notable Persian scholar, replied “This is only a mole on the fair face of the treaty,” and quoted from Hafiz: “If this Shiraz beauty will accept my heart, for her Hindu-dark mole I will give Samarkand and Bukhara.” This apt quotation eased the situation, but Abdul Kuddus Khan exclaimed: "See, Your Majesty, Mr. Dane gives you Samarkand and Bukhara." But Dane's prompt reply was: "Nay, the mole is on the face of the British treaty and for this the Amir abandons Samarkand and Bukhara."’ – As recorded by Sir Percy Sykes

And so the British ordeal was over. And the Indian government had not, as it had hoped, gotten a better deal out of the Iron Amir’s successor, but given him much of what he wanted. His subsidy and its arrears were returned to him, and he was promised the ability to import arms as he pleased. With regards to intriguing with the frontier tribes, the Amir promised he ‘would not in future go beyond the principles of his father’. (That is to say, from the intrigues of Habibullah deliver us!)
While Lord Curzon was understandably upset, London received the news rather well. The treaty moreover recognised Habibullah as Padshah of Afghanistan and its dependencies, thus implicitly guaranteeing his country’s territorial integrity. This was further emphasised n 1907 when the Amir visited India as a guest of the new Viceroy, Lord Minto, and was received with much pomp and ceremony – he was even taken on the obligatory tiger shoot arranged by the Raj for visiting dignitaries.

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Royal tiger hunt in India, 1907. Left to right, Sir Henry MacMahon (behind seated man), Padshah Habibullah Khan, the Duke of Manchester

At least the Amir was now relatively happy with the British – however long that would last.

Impressed by what he saw in India, the Amir has become convinced that his country needs reforms. So convinced that on his return he was accused of having embraced Christianity – and the accusations did not subside until four mullahs were hanged and the Amir went on a tour of his country explaining to all that his policies were his father’s policies. Moreover, he proudly announced that he now had enough ammunition stockpiled to last ten years of war, and enough rifles to arm every adult in Afghanistan.
Indeed, it had become clearer and clearer with time that the Amir’s friendship was of extreme importance for India not purely as a buffer state, but also for the sake of internal Indian stability – souring of relations and subsequent war would lead to the immediate rising of frontier tribes from Waziristan to Kashmir, and Muslims in the interior would doubtlessly prove problematic – indeed, the Indian government was well aware that the Amir was in contact with Indian Nationalists and that they had assured him of their willingness to welcome him as ruler of India. Of course, given the altogether friendly relations and lack of upsets up until 1909, there does not appear to be any cause for Britain to worry overmuch about these matters or for Habibullah to test the extent of his capabilities.

The (Very, very) Slow Road towards Modernisation

One of Habibullah Khan’s first acts on ascending to the throne was to grant amnesty, in 1902, to all those exiled by his father. As a consequence, many influential figures immediately made their way back to Afghanistan. These exiles had an enormous impact on Afghan politics because they brought new ideas, both secular and religious, into a country that had long been cut-off from the outside world. They were products of new movements in India and the Ottoman Empire that were now shaping politics throughout the Muslim world, but from which Afghanistan had been isolated.
Of these returned exiles, Mahmud Tarzi – a distant relative – immediately drew the Amir's attention. With contacts in high positions in the Ottoman Empire, and having been vastly influenced by the Young Turks and reformists across the Muslim world, the Amir commissioned him to establish contact with Ottomans and Indians, and invite experts to Afghanistan in order to assist with educational and other reform projects.

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Mahmud Tarzi

With the founding of the Habibiyya Lycee (College) in 1904 – modelled on the reformist Aligarh College in India – Afghanistan, for the first time, has a modern educational institute. Mathematics, gymnastics, geometry, geography, English, Urdu, Pasto, as well as traditional subjects (e.g. Quran) are taught here, along with art, history, Turkish, physics, chemistry, botany zoology, painting, history and various sciences. The first public library in Afghanistan was also constructed here at the Amir’s behest. The sons of influential families flocked to the college.

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The Habibiyya Lycee

In preparation for this step, in 1903, the Amir issued orders to all the mosques in Kabul to collect the children playing around the streets and give them an education. The kalantars of different quarters were to report who could not afford to educate their children and the Amir would arrange for it. This system was intended to be applied all over the country and made use of the traditional Afghan education system: consisting of four stages; primary, secondary, professional, and higher, this remained in force, with no change in curriculum. Students in these schools (madrasa) continued to study the Quran, fiqh (juridical science based on theology), hadith, calligraphy, and Arabic and Persian classical literature.

‘Let anyone who nevertheless still honestly thinks that religion and education are mutually antagonistic, and that religion must decline where education flourishes, come to this college, as I have come, and see for himself, as I have seen, what education is doing for the religious beliefs of the rising generation. ... There is, I am told, a violent prejudice among many Indian Muhammedans against that particular kind of education which we call European education. What folly is this! Listen to me. I stand here as the advocate of Western learning. So far from thinking it an evil, I have founded in Afghanistan a college called Habibiya College after my own name, where European education is to be given as far as possible on European lines. What I do insist on, however, is that religious education is the foundation on which all other forms of education must rest.
If you cut away the foundations the superstructure will surely topple over. I say to you therefore, be ever careful to make the religious training of the students your first and foremost care. This all-essential condition I have imposed upon my college in Afghanistan, and I hope it will ever be strictly maintained there. But subject to this condition, I say again that I am a sincere friend and well-wisher of Western education.’ – Amir Habibullah Khan addressing the students of Aligarh during his visit to India, 1907

Along with the Habibiyya, the Madrasse Harbiyye Sirajiyyeh (Royal Military College) was also established in 1904. Things taught here include Quran, mathematics, geometry, military logistics, gymnastics, drill, Persian, English, Afghan history, geography and other such studies. Most of the teachers at both colleges were Indians, either educated in Lahore or at the modernist Muslim College at Aligarh.

‘O my Muslim brethren, endeavour to acquire knowledge, so that you may not wear the clothes of the ignorant. It is your duty to acquire knowledge. After your children have thoroughly acquainted themselves with the principles and laws of the faith of Muhammad, turn their attention towards the acquirement of the new sciences, as unless you acquire Western knowledge, you will remain without bread.’ – Amir Habibullah Khan before laying the foundation stone of the Islamic College at Lahore during his visit to India, 1907

In addition to all this, the Amir formed an organisation, Dar al-Ta’alif, for the publication of much-needed educational material.

‘In a single sentence, I give you my whole exhortation. Acquire knowledge. …There are those who utter solemn warnings in your ears, who urge that Mohammedans have nothing to do with modern philosophy, who disclaim against Western sciences as though they are evil. I am not among them. I am not among those who ask you to shut your ears and your eyes. On the contrary, I say pursue knowledge whereever it is to be found.’ – Amir Habibullah Khan, Father of Modern Afghan Education

In 1907, in addition to the Indian and Ottomans employed at the Habibiyya, a group of seven Turks arrived in Kabul among whom were a physician, a military officer, and an engineer, for the purpose of advising the Amir on various matters – they are part of the ‘Pani-Islamic League’. Amongst these is Mahmud Sami Effendi who in April 1907 requested and was granted 200 Nuristani youths for training and drilling. After his tour of Afghanistan was complete, the Amir reviewed these youths and was very much impressed with Mahmud Sami Effendi’s work. He appointed him to the post of Colonel and he is now the Principal of the Sirajiyyeh. Some of the other Ottomans employed by the Amir are:

- Hassan Hilmi Effendi: surveyor and mapper, arrived 1907
- Muhammad Raza Beg Effendi: gunpowder manufacturer, arrived 1907
- Ali Fahmi Effendi: mathematics teachers at the Habibiyya, arrived 1907
- Doctor Ahmed Fahima Beg: doctor, recent arrival
- Abbas Beg: drill master, brother in law to Mahmud Sami

Having seen telephones for the first time on his visit to India, the Amir, in 1908, had lines strung from Kabul to several larger towns. He also established telegraph links among the country’s major cities. Thanks to his father, and to Habibullah's continuing support, Kabul continues to produce shoes, soap, rifles, machine parts and other such things. Moreover, foreign technicians have helped in training Afghans in various areas, leading to better mining techniques, improved tailoring skill and greater medical understanding, to list but a few. However, the Emirate has not yet taken any steps to utilise Afghanistan’s natural resources in any way and remains largely dependent on imports of raw materials to supply these the factories.

In the period 1901-4, over 4,000 workers were employed in the government workshops at Kabul, which includes a steam-hammer shop, a mint (whose production capacity is 40,000 Kabuli rupees – the Afghan currency – a day), iron and brass foundries, smithies and rolling mills, and boiler and engine houses. In addition, there are a number of handicraft shops that turn out guns, cartridges, wheels, gunpowder, bayonets and swords, tanned leather, distilled spirits, acids, tin and copper products, candles, soap (12 tonnes a week), and furniture. Habibullah has thus far made important contributions to the expansion of local industry by purchasing equipment for a tannery and boot factory capable of producing 400 boots a day and established a textile mill. Also of importance is his commissioning four American engineers to build the country’s first hydroelectric plant at Jabal-ul-Siraj, which now supplies power to the palaces and buildings of Kabul. The next step is to expand these advances beyond Kabul to all major urban centres in the country.

Early in his reign, the new Amir sought to win over the religious establishment, and so relaxed some of his father’s laws concerning them – earning him the title Siraj al-Millat-e-wal-Din (Lamp of the Nation and Religion) for his ‘exemplary activities on behalf of Islam and Afghanistan’, while also making the religious establishment more supportive of his reformist measures.
Moreover, due to a rather gifted Mustaufi (Head Accountant and Exchequer), Mohammad Hussein, the Amir’s tax revenues are generally in good hands ensuring that the state’s financial administration has thus far gone smoothly. This has been enhanced by the utilisation of kalantars on the village level to impose an ID card system (tazkira) that has made it very possible for the state to work out the nation’s population as well as the taxes due per year. The system is still rudimentary and requires development, but it provides a building block which the reforming Amir and his Mustaufi plan to capitalise on.

Moreover, instead of relying on his father's forceful methods, Habibullah attempted to broaden the base of his power by improving the strained relations of the monarchy with the Afghan tribes, choosing the cooperative route rather than the coercive one. He relaxed the system of compulsory military recruitment, established a Council of State (headed by his brother, Nasrullah Khan) to handle tribal affairs and giving due consideration to the will and interests of the tribal leaders, and introduced a measure that permitted tribal representatives to participate in the adjudication of tribal cases by provincial authorities.

The first national orphanage – located in Kabul – was also built at the behest of the Amir. The children there are relatively well looked after and have already been assured their place in the the Habibiyya and a future as loyal servants of the state. Photography equipment was introduced into the country and the Amir personally taught people in Kabul how to use the equipment – he even had his own pictures sold to raise money for the orphanage. Anti-slavery laws were also further strengthened and torture was officially outlawed early in the Amir’s reign. Harsh punishments and the terrible prisons used by the Iron Amir have also been abandoned for a rehabilitative approach which looks to train criminals in handicrafts and have them work for the betterment of the nation rather than wallow away in cages or dungeons. However, particularly serious offences met with equally cruel punishments.

Partly as a consequence of the return of the exiles, there have emerged two major factions at the Amir's court, both pushing him to make changes. The first is the religious faction composed of ulema, Sufi leaders, and more devout members of the royal family, chief amongst whom is the Amir’s younger brother, Nasrullah Khan. The second are the Constitutionalists (Mashruta Khwahan) - members of which formed the Secret National Party (Jami’at-i-Sir-i-Milli). This latter faction is made up of liberal elites of well-educated middle-class families who demand social and political reforms, as well as Afghan independence. Many of them are, in fact, students and graduates from the Habibiyya College, and included even the Amir’s sons – Enayatullah Khan and Amanullah Khan.

Since the turn of the century, Afghan nationalism, or awareness of an Afghan nationalism, as well as pan-Islamist sentiment have slowly – but surely – been on the rise. This has largely been inspired by the powerful nationalistic and constitutional movements in Iran and Turkey, as well as the various wars waged by the Ottoman Empire against various Christian powers and against internal rebellions. The Empire’s current woes, in particular, have inspired a movement calling on the Amir to permit Afghans to travel to the aid of their Caliph. There have been similar proclamations with regards to the Muslims fighting in China – and the invasion of Morocco only raised similar cries.

Moreover, the Russian defeat at Germany’s hands, as well as recent shows of dissent in the Empire, have inspired some kind of Afghan irredentism with the Amir being encouraged to declare a jihad to liberate Muslim Central Asia from the cursed infidel. By no means foolish enough to do any such thing, the Amir has never the less humoured them. Unbeknownst to the Amir, his brother Nasrullah has in fact been financing this jihadist movement and, as of 1909, it is slowly growing.

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Sardar Salar Hafiz Nasrullah Khan, Sipah Salar of the Army, Na'ib al-Sultanat: Anti-British, Pan-Islamist, funding tribals on the North-West frontier and jihadists


Were the Amir to so much as declare a jihad, Central Asia would almost certainly explode. Excited by the possibility, the Amir wrote to the Viceroy.

‘…now that Germany has broken Russia's leg, we must break her back; it is odd if England and Afghanistan cannot tackle Russia in her present condition.’ – Amir Habibullah to the Viceroy of India, 1909

Meanwhile, the Mashruta Khwahan has slowly grown more and more critical of the Amir’s gradualistic approach to reform in Afghanistan. While it had maintained secrecy over the activities of Jami’at-i-Sir-i-Milli until this point, in late 1909 the Amir discovered the organisation and that one of its main aims was to oust him from power and replace the absolute monarchy with a constitutional monarchy. Furious at this, the Amir ordered the swift suppression of the secret organisation. In its place have emerged the Young Afghans (Jawanan-i-Afghan) – a nationalist and modernist faction drawn largely from the rising new generation influenced by Mahmud Tarzi, made up of writers, teachers, liberal members of the court, and, of course, Habibullah’s rebellious, liberal sons. Indeed, given Tarzi’s pan-Islamist sentiments, this group appeals even to elements of the religious faction, including Nasrullah Khan.

The future is full of dangers for Afghanistan. But, more than any time in its history, it is full of possibilities.

‘My sons and successors should not try to introduce reforms of any kind in such a hurry as to set the people against their ruler, and they must bear in mind that in establishing constitutional government, introducing more lenient laws, and modelling education upon the system of Western universities, they myst adopt all these gradually as the people become accustomd to the idea of modern innovations.’ – Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman’s advice to his successors
 
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von_Rundstedt

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In order to protect the inhabitans of Shanghai in general, and those of the International Settlement in particular, His Majesty's Government requests that the place be declared an Open City. It shall not be defended, nor shelled or otherwise attacked.

~Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne​
 

Kho

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Sardar Salar Hafiz Nasrullah Khan, Sipah Salar of the Army, President of the State Council, Na'ib al-Sultanat
'Is it done?' the rather short, hard-eyed young Sardar was sat upright in his seat, looking at the Kazi-ul-Kuzzat Sa'd al-Din (Chief Judge Sa'd al-Din). They were good friends - Sa'd al-Din was, in fact, his mentor and as a father to him - and so even as the Sardar spoke with the harshness of one in authority, it was tempered by respect for an elder and mentor.
'Yes, Sardar. And as always, Amir Sahib knows nothing.' The young man - Nasrullah Khan, full brother of the Amir Habibullah Khan - smiled widely at the news, his hard face relaxing and his long black beard rising in pleasure. It was zealous contentment, a contentment of one who knew that they had done well by almighty God. It was no mystery to anybody that Nasrullah Khan was a devout Muslim - so devout, in fact, that he had committed to memory the entirety of the Quran and earned the title of hafiz: one who is a guardian of the Quran, a memoriser. From time to time he gave the Friday khutba (sermon) at one of the mosques in Kabul - and he was a charismatic speaker! Much like his late father.
'We have arranged for one
thousand Ghilji pilgrims to go to Mecca by sea via Karachi, nothing suspicious about it whatsoever. They will join the many thousands of pilgrims at Karachi like they do every year - thanks to your support, more and more Afghans do the hajj every year. May God bless you, Sardar. They are, as you requested, all pious young men chosen by their local mullas. They will land at Jeddah in the Ottoman Empire and have the honour of becoming hajjis.' Nasrullah nodded.
'And the caravans? Are they ready like every year?' he asked. The Kazi-ul-Kuzzat nodded.
'Yes, another three thousand - hand-picked, like the others - will be making the long journey through Persia on camel-back. The Persians don't tend to search Afghans crossing the border, and especially not pilgrims. So it is relatively safe to assume that their weapons and ammunition will not draw attention - after all, pilgrims carry more with them than can possibly be searched.' At these words, the Sardar allowed himself to relax somewhat, taking a deep breath.


'You have done exceptionally well, Kazi, if this succeeds then our brothers in the lands of the Khilafah will soon rejoice, for they will be joined by brothers who are harsh against their enemy, soft and kind with them. God knows we have woefully neglected our duties to our Khalifah in the years that have passed and stood idle by as the kuffar tore and ate at them. By God's will, insha'Allah, no more will this be. These pious Afghans will join with their brothers and fight in glorious jihad.' The Kazi-ul-Kuzzat was by no means as zealous as he had been in his younger days. Indeed, frequent contact with the British and Russians had softened his rigidity and greatly illuminated his understanding of the world. But that did not mean that a sense of duty to defend his Muslim brethren did not remain within his heart. He was certain that the Sardar's rigidity would, with time and experience, also soften. And he would mellow somewhat and grow into a truly enlightened man - for he had wit and intelligence! And so long as one had those, there was hope for them yet.

Sa'd al-Din, now fifty-nine years old, had been the Governor of Herat when the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commissions were demarcating the line of separation between the Emirate and the Empire of the Rus. His interactions with them had, from those days, caused him to review his beliefs about the world. And yes, he had emerged rather more of a mystic and a Sufi than the firebrand he had been. It was not bad, of course. It was good to grow - and if it was not good and if it was not God's will, surely God would not have willed it for his poor and devout slave.
'How is 'Abd al-Karim?' came the Sardar's question after a period of silence.
'Oh, he was well when I saw him last. As you know, he is studiously attempting to learn the ways of the Turkish military instructors even as he continues his religious studies. We hardly see him anymore these days,' indeed, 'Abd al-Karim Khan, Sa'd al-Din's son and one of Nasrullah's closest friends, had since the beginning of the year applied himself fully to the arts of war. Something about the situation in the Ottoman Empire seemed to have influenced him.
'And your daughter, I hear my brother is once more well-disposed towards her,' the Sardar continued. Sa'd al-Din nodded without comment. Indeed, Habibullah had divorced his poor daughter when he ascended to the throne - for he had realised that he had more wives than permitted by the Shari'a, and as a sign of piety and restraint, he now restricted himself to merely four. It was indeed a show of great piety! If God so pleased, his daughter may well soon be permitted to return to the royal harem - and that would be a great honour indeed.
'Keep me informed on the situation with the hajji-mujahideen, it is our hope that we will hear of their great exploits before the year is done.' With that, the Kazi-ul-Kuzzat nodded respectfully before leaving the room. If this experiment was successful - and if Amir Sahib did not realise that Nasrullah Khan was behind it - then the next year may well see more Afghans crossing Persia to partake in the great jihad for the preservation of the khilafah.

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A Caravan of of Pilgrims from Persia and Central Asia, amongst them the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen

Armed with Snider and Martini-Henri Rifles - either produced in Kabul or imported from India - the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen on both land and sea soon arrived in Mecca. When the rites of the hajj were over they would, rather than returning home, make their intentions clear to the Ottoman authorities and march wherever the khalifah commanded them. Though they were a militia of volunteers, they had undergone the basic military training enforced by the Iron Amir during his time and continued by his successor. Whatever else they lacked in skill, they would make up for in pure zeal - a zeal that had gotten them across deserts and seas. While they could attempt to fight in open battle, it would be in the hills and in guerilla warfare that their skill would truly come to light.
 
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Julius Maximus

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The Ottoman Empire


Private Letter to the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen From Sultan Mehmed V

As your Caliph, I am most delighted to see Allah's most devoted arrive to the Ottoman Empire, from what I hear from my local administrators is that you wish to wage the most holy of Jihad against our enemies, which are many that have shown themselves in a few short years. But it is good to know that the Afghan people show their support to our noble and just cause of crushing all opposition to Islam, and falsely-guided revolutions led by atheists or lost Christians within our borders.

As such, I shall task your men to be dispatched to the Armenian region under the Imperial Armies' supervision, as our brave men need guidance within the rough terrain, which I hear the Afghans have excellent skills to do so. I shall also order that your men be given more modern arms and equipment to combat our enemies, as the dispatch also I received noted your men are using dated weaponry, which under my grace and friendship shall give you better.

But I must strain this with the most seriousness of tones, the Christians in this region are not at fault for the strife, but savage dogs who use them like cattle to push forward their twisted agendas; treat the people kindly as any good man of the faith and Allah should do. If reports come that Christians are being mistreated or, Allah forbids slaughtered by your men, I will humbly request your men return home to Afghanistan.

May Allah guide us all during these troubling times, and the greatest of fortunes be granted to the Hajji-Mujahideen in battle.
~ Signed, Mehmed V
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
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oxfordroyale

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A statement on the Shanghai Open City Proposal

Addressed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the United States of America, the French Third Republic, the imperial regime of Yuan Shikai and the Manchu monarchy,

The Republic of China is amenable to the request of the United Kingdom, for we believe it to have been made with benevolent intentions. In the – however unlikely – event that the city of Shanghai should fall under the threat of imminent capture by enemy forces, the Republic of China promises to declare it an “open city” and cease all defensive efforts in order to avoid unnecessary structural damage and loss of life. We request that the belligerent powers respect it as such should an announcement be made.

However, the Republic of China must stress that the foreign nationals residing in the Shanghai International Settlement are in no danger of being harmed. It is our government's opinion that the British suggestion of an open city in Shanghai be viewed as nothing more than a prudent last resort should our normal military operations prove unsuccessful. We hope that the United Kingdom is understanding.

On Behalf of the Republic of China,
Minister of Foreign Affairs WU TINGFANG

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An Examination of the Qing Military, Pre- and Post-Reform
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A Western depiction of Banner Army archers drilling on the streets of the Imperial capital, late 1880's to 1890's.

With the arrival of Chilean, British, and Japanese over the course of 1906-1909, the Banner Armies of the Qing Empire were almost miraculously transformed from a centuries-outdated army force into the near-modern, Western-style Imperial Army of the Empire of the Great Qing, or the Imperial Army for short. Effectively nothing within the army remained unchanged from before 1906, as the entire force’s upper command was effectively torn down and built back up again, while the enlisted men went from musket-wielding conscripts to real soldiers of the 20th century. In particular, change regarding that of the common infantryman will be covered.
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Sword-wielding troops of the pre-reform Banner Armies, around the Boxer Rebellion.

Conscription in the modern sense of the term effectively did not exist in the pre-reform Banner Armies. The system of pressing civilians into service was rather simple, and shockingly similar to that of a feudal levy system: A landlord would be approached by a local military commander or a district magistrate, and ordered to bring forth tenants for military service. The landlord would gather up the able-bodied (such term was used loosely) men and boys of his estate, usually ranging from ages as young as 12 to as old as 50 or 60, and some or all of them would be taken off for service in the army. Meanwhile, the draft could be dodged shockingly easy for families of some means, as the administrators responsible for gathering up conscripts were renowned to be easily paid-off. The sloppy execution of pre-reform conscription was a major issue for the Banner Armies. Underaged and borderline geriatric men could be found amongst the ranks, along with those afflicted with otherwise service-barring disabilities. From an anecdote of one of the Chilean advisors from early 1906:

“All sorts of cretins and invalids were peppered across their ranks. There one such man, known to his comrades only as ‘Hung’, who was both on the precipice of being blind and appeared to be an idiot. He was out of uniform and had no rifle, when asked why he said that he did not know what a rifle was.”
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An officer with some of his men, pre-reform, early Civil War.

In addition to the implications of individual fighting ability, such sloppy conscription wreaked havoc on the logistics systems of the army. Units were often reported to be falsely over or under full strength, which would see supplies and reinforcements sent to army units that often times did not need them, or needed more. A universal joke amongst Qing enlisted men were the “spirit battalions”, and soldiers were to known to hold mock religious sacrifices for their “ghostly reinforcements”. Many times, the whereabouts of individual soldiers was difficult to be known, as many times draft-dodgers were wrote in as being present, which would see posses of soldiers scour the countryside for “deserters”, only to later find out that these men were never present in the first place. The antiquated system of conscription, aggravated by the rampant corruption tainting all levels of the military and the bureaucracy, was a handicap on the efficiency of the Qing military in effectively every sector.

The reformation of the conscription system began in 1906 with the arrival of the Chilean advisors. Immediately, standard door-to-door and levying was replaced by household-based, more precise conscription, which was eventually based off of the French model, as opted for by the newly-ascended Baotian Emperor. This coincided with an unrelated anti-corruption campaign, and draft-dodging rates quickly decreased, as did the pressing of the unfit. Conscription became orderly and easier to track, and a peacetime system was laid out as well.

Training saw a similar revamp, but required much less intensive efforts to get it that way. Newly-enlisted troops under the Banner Armies were expected to be trained by their peers, as well as by resident martial arts instructors providing lessons in unarmed combat, sword-fighting, and polearm handling. With the rise of role specialization within the army, the usage of repeating rifles, and the need for synchronized troops maneuvers and improved communications.

Troops were retrained and reequipped to fit the roles of the modern army, as Qing soldiers jokingly said they “entered as an archer and left as a machine-gunner”, as the metal from swords and halberds were piled up and melted down for other use. Signal flags and flare usage were introduced and training maneuvers helped cement the new concept within the Imperial Army of the non-commissioned officer, in the modern sense. Swords (the machete-like dadao was retained in a notable exception) and bows were supplanted by a multinational smattering of different bolt-action rifles, Overall, individual soldiers became acquainted with the weapons of the century, and the new units within the Imperial Army learned how to function properly in a modern military force.
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Post-reform Imperial troops in their Western Uniforms.

The uniforms, rations, and ranking system were in similar poor quality. The uniforms of Qing troops in the Banner Armies were specific and often times impractical, making identifying friend from foe a headache on the battlefield. Meanwhile, rations fluctuated in both quality and quantity due to a very unreliable logistical system. Individual Banner Armies and other units had their own ranking systems, of which many times there was no real insignia or other identifying factors. With the reforms, a common ranking system based off the German model was established, as was a universal uniform. Regulations were introduced regarding proper dress, ration amounts, and the equipment provided to troops in an effort to bring uniformity to the Imperial Army. These efforts, by 1909, were entirely successful. A real divisional system based off of Germany’s was structured, with troops fighting in small, twelve-man squadrons upwards to larger forces in the thousands or tens of thousands, all ordered under a general staff with a clear-cut command system.

Overall, the Qing military went from that of the antiquated Banner Armies to an effective, modern Imperial Army at an unprecedented rate, which was mirrored by the Yuanist army as well. Despite throwing the Imperial Army into an almost catastrophic state of disarray, the force held, albeit barely, and was poised to become a respectable fighting force under the brash, 22-year old “warrior emperor” of the Baotian Era.
 
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Cloud Strife

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A communique to HM's Government, the Powers, and the authorities of Southern China and throughout the lands of China in general;

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The Republic is appreciative of the stance of the Southern Chinese authorities towards the British Communique on making Shanghai an Open City should the need arise. We support the British initiative at preserving the peace of the Shanghai International Settlement and on behalf of the Powers. However, we remind all parties that the Concession française de Changhaï is independent of the Shanghai International Settlement and it remains the Republic's responsibility to ensure its security in these trying times. If necessary, though we hope that things do not come to this point, we are authorizing the gouverneur général de l'Indochine to provide reinforcements at the request of our authorities in Changhaï.

We soon hope to call a conference of the International Community to address the need for a common policy adopted towards the unrest afflicting China as of late.

Sincerely,
M. Castelnau, Président de la République française
 

Rolman99

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The Empire of the Great Qing agrees to the British proposal of making Shanghai an open, safe city. Therefore, forces of the Imperial Army shall avoid engaging in combat in or around the city of Shanghai. The Empire of the Great Qing hopes that the rebels will agree to this as well, in spite of their treacherous natures, to protect the residents and property of Shanghai from harm.
 

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The lack of communism in this game is abysmally disturbing.

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