Reign of Amanullah Khan over the Emirate of Afghanistan

Amanullah Khan (June 1, 1892 – April 25, 1960) was the ruler of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Amir and after 1926 as Shah.

He led Afghanistan to independence over its foreign affairs from the United Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change.

Amanullah Khan was the third son of the Amir Habibullah Khan. When he helped assassinate his father on February 20, 1919, Amanullah was already installed as the governor of Kabul and was in control of the army and the treasury. He quickly seized power, imprisoned any relatives with competing claims to the Kingship, and gained the allegiance of most of the tribal leaders.

Russia had recently undergone its Communist revolution, leading to strained relations between the country and the United Kingdom. Amanullah Khan recognized the opportunity to use the situation to gain Afghanistan's independence over its foreign affairs. He led a surprise attack against the British in India on May 3, 1919, beginning the third Anglo-Afghan war. After initial successes, the war quickly became a stalemate as the United Kingdom was still dealing with the costs of World War I. An armistice was reached in 1921, and Afghanistan became an independent nation.

After Amanullah travelled to Europe in late 1927, opposition to his rule increased. An uprising in Jalalabad culminated in a march to the capital, and much of the army deserted rather than resist. Through public support Habibullah Kalakani became the next king of Afghanistan. However, his rule was short lived and was soon replaced by Nadir Khan. In early 1929, Amanullah abdicated and went into temporary exile in India. Amanullah Khan attempted to return to Afghanistan, however he had little support from the people. From India, the ex-king traveled to Europe and settled in Italy, and later in Switzerland. Meanwhile, Nadir Khan made sure his return to Afghanistan was impossible by engaging in a propaganda war. Nadir Khan accused Amanullah Khan of kufr with his pro western policies.