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Afghanistan's King Mohammad Zahir Shah, 92, died July 23 in Kabul. The only son of Mohammed Nadir Shah, and a descendent of Ahmed Shah, founder of the Durrani dynasty in the 18th century, he was educated at the Pasteur Institute in France, where his father was living in exile before returning in the late 1920s to take control through a coup. After finishing his studies in France, Shah returned to Afghanistan in 1930 and continued his education at the Kabul Infantry College, after which he served in the country's defense and education ministries. On Nov. 8, 1933, Shah witnessed his father's assassination, and assumed the throne at the age of 19. Under his rule, Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I, courted both the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, and adopted a constitution in 1964. While out of the country in 1973 he was overthrown by his cousin, Gen. Mohammed Daud Khan, who ruled until being killed shortly before the 1978 Soviet invasion. Shah lived in Italy until 2002 when, following U.S. regime change, he returned to Afghanistan to become the ceremonial "father of the nation." His wife of 71 years, Queen Homaira, died in 2002. His son, Crown Prince Muhammed Akbar Khan, died in 1942 and another son, Prince Shah Mahmoud Khan, died in 2002. He is survived by two daughters, Princess Bilqis Begum and Princess Maryam Begum, and four sons, Crown Prince Ahmad Shah, Prince Muhammed Nadir Khan, Prince Muhammed Daoud Pashtunyar Khan and Prince Mir Wais Khan.

Former Iraqi President Abdel Rahman Aref, 91, died Aug. 24 at King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, Jordan. A career soldier, he participated in the 1958 overthrow of the monarchy, supported his brother Abdel Salaam Aref's coup against Abdel Karim Qassim to become president in 1963, served as army chief of staff under his brother's presidency, and was named president himself in 1966 after his brother died in a helicopter crash. Aref remained president until 1968, when he was overthrown by Iraq's Ba'ath Party, led by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. …


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