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'Abdur al-Rahman Khan
(1844 - 1901) Afghanistan

Abdur Rahman

Amir (= King)


'Abdur al-Rahman Khan was born in Kabul. After the death of Amir Shir Ali Khan, 'Abdur al-Rahman Khan, who was living in Samarqand at the time, returned to Afghanistan and after a fierce and long-drawn struggle for power waged by his father and his uncle, A'zam Khan, against his cousin Shir 'Ali, the successor of Dost Mohammad Khan, took the Afghan throne in 1880.

The British finally withdrew from Kandahar in April 1881, and the second Anglo-Afghan war ended soon after his arrival on the scene. The British recognized him as the Amir of Afghanistan, and later brokered various agreements with him. The boundaries of modern Afghanistan were drawn by the British and the Russians. The Durand Line of 1893 divided zones of responsibility for the maintenance of law and order between British India and the kingdom of Afghanistan; it was never intended as a de jure international boundary. Afghanistan, therefore, although never dominated by a European imperial government, became a buffer between tsarist Russia and British India.

He also agreed to give the British complete control over Afghanistan's foreign policy. In return the British supported him financially. Over time, he defeated his rivals and put down many rebellions. During his reign, Abdul al-Rahman centralized the government, and brought about various reforms. He also waged bloody wars with various minority ethnic groups in the country, which left thousands dead.

'Abdur al-Rahman exerted his influence, if not actual control, over the various ethnolinguistic groups inside Afghanistan, fighting some 20 small wars to convince them that a strong central government existed in Kabul. 'Abdur al-Rahman was so successful that, at his death, his designated successor and eldest son, Habibollah Khan, succeeded to the throne without the usual fratricidal fighting. 'Abdur al-Rahman can be considered the founder of modern Afghanistan. He died in Kabul.


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