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Monday, August 27, 2007

The Second Anglo-Afghan War

In October 1856 the Iranians siezed Herat, and the British, whose policy it was to maintain the independence of this city, declared war against Iran. After three months the Iranians withdrew from Herat and committed themselves never again to interfere there or elsewhere in Afghanistan. This brief war convinced the British that they should bolster the strength of Dost Mohammad in an attempt to enable him to meet future challenges by the Iranians. In 1857 an addendum was signed to the 1855 treaty that permitted a British military mission to go to Qandahar (but not to Kabul) and to provide a subsidy during conflict with the Iranians. Fraser-Tytler notes that as Dost Mohammad signed the document he proclaimed, "I have now made an alliance with the British Government and come what may I will keep it till death." Even during the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion in India, when British forces in the Punjab were thinned dramatically, Dost Mohammad refused to take advantage of British vulnerability to retake the Pashtun areas under British control.

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