The Anglo-Zanzibar War: The Shortest War In History


Wars often last for years and sometimes decades, but the Anglo-Zanzibar War lasted only 38 minutes, making it the shortest war in history. Why was this war fought? And why did it end so quickly?

British Occupation of Zanzibar

By the late 1800s, Britain had sunk its colonial teeth deep into East Africa, but other European countries such as Germany also had a stake in the region, leading to the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty of 1890, which signed Tanzania and Zanzibar. control provided. Germany and Britain respectively. Britain soon established a puppet government led by Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, and things went smoothly for the empire until August 25, 1896, when Hamad died suddenly and unexpectedly. The cause of his death was never determined, but rumors spread that he had been poisoned by his power-hungry cousin, Khalid bin Barghash, who had immediately established himself as Sultan.

Khalid believed that he had a legitimate claim to the throne, but the British government was the de facto right of the land, and Basil Cave, the chief British diplomat, ordered Khalid to abdicate. As the cave and Khalid failed to negotiate, the two sides gathered troops, and within 24 hours, Khalid's palace was guarded by about 3,000 surprisingly well-armed men.

Anglo-Zanzibar War

Finally, the cave issued an ultimatum to Khalid: evacuate the palace by 9:00 am. On August 27, or face the wrath of the British Army. Khalid bluffed, so after the deadline had passed, British warships began throwing bombs at the palace, and within two minutes, most of Khalid's artillery was destroyed. By 9:04, Khalid had exited through the back door, leaving his soldiers and servants without a leader, and the wooden supports of the palace soon collapsed, trapping Khalid's men inside. Although Khalid and his supporters were clearly defeated, the shelling continued until 9:38, when Khalid's flag was pulled down as a sign of surrender. More than 500 of Khalid's soldiers were killed in the 38-minute battle, first within 10 minutes, while only one British officer was wounded. He soon recovered from his wounds.

With Khalid removed from power, the British government found another pro-British leader to serve as a puppet sultan, and Khalid fled Zanzibar to seek refuge at the German consulate in nearby Tanzania. He was not captured until 1916, after which he was tried and sentenced to exile, but was eventually allowed to return to East Africa.

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