Today (?) in Central Asian history: the Battle of Talas (751)

After the early Arab conquests in the seventh century drove the Byzantine Empire out of the Levant and Egypt and drove the massive Sasanian Empire out of existence altogether, the Arabs under the Rashidun and then Umayyad caliphs continued to expand their frontiers. By the early eighth century they’d added vast new territories to their … Continue reading Today (?) in Central Asian history: the Battle of Talas (751)

Today in Central Asian history: the Soviets invade Afghanistan (1979)

For a while Americans mostly viewed the Soviet-Afghan War positively, as the Beginning Of The End for the Soviet Union, and while there may still be something to that, I imagine most of us think of it a bit differently nowadays. The plucky Mujahideen who earned America's support and admiration for their brave fight against … Continue reading Today in Central Asian history: the Soviets invade Afghanistan (1979)

Today in Central Asian history: the Battle of the Baggage (737)

In the waning years of the Umayyad dynasty, a caliphal army suffered a major defeat in an area that is now part of Afghanistan, to a Turkish people called the Türgesh. The defeat was serious enough to disrupt caliphal control of the region called Transoxiana (literally “across the Oxus River,” which is today known as … Continue reading Today in Central Asian history: the Battle of the Baggage (737)

Today in South Asian history: the Durand Line is drawn (1893)

The Durand Line, AKA "the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan," is one of those legacies of colonial times that everybody's still, unfortunately, living with today. Named after the guy who dreamed it up, British Foreign Secretary for India (at the time) Sir Mortimer Durand, it was meant to fix the border between British India and … Continue reading Today in South Asian history: the Durand Line is drawn (1893)