Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Afghan Revolt (699–701)

Afghan Revolt (699–701)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Arabs vs. Afghans; then Arab governor of the eastern provinces vs. rebels led by Ibn al-Ash’ath

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Afghanistan and much of Mesopotamia (Iraq)


MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Afghans rebelled against Arab rule, then an Arab general rebelled against the Muslim governor of the eastern provinces of the Muslim caliphate.

OUTCOME: Both the Afghan rebellion and that of Ibn al-Ash’ath were put down.




The famous Peacock Army of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusef (661–714), the Muslim governor of the eastern provinces of the caliphate, set out in 699 to regain control of what is today southeast Afghanistan from Afghan rebels. Known for their colorful military garb—hence the name “Peacock”—the army under Kindah tribesman Ibn al-Ash’ath (d. 704) defeated the rebels and was posted to the region for an indefinite period of time. The Kindah military leader refused to obey this posting order from al-Hajjaj and took part of the army back to Mesopotamia. Having gathered support along the march, he clashed with troops of al-Hajjaj in January 701 at Tustar and defeated them. Ibn al- Ash’ath then set out for Basra and Kufa, where he won the Battle of Dayr at-Jamajim. He occupied the important port city of Basra. However, his run of successes on the battlefield ended at the Battle of Maskin on the Dujail River in 701, where al-Hajjaj, reinforced by Syrian troops provided by caliph Adb al-Malik (646/647–705), dealt a decisive blow against Ibn’s rebel army. Basra returned to the control of the caliphate, and the rebellion collapsed.

Further reading: Clifford Edmond Bosworth, The Medieval History of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (London: Variorum Reprints, 1977).

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