Afghanistan Table of Contents
Arab interference was in some ways more aggravating . Saudi aid to the mujahidin, which roughly matched that of the United States, had been crucial in accelerating the guerilla war against the Soviet forces. Also, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states (except Iraq) had severely criticized Soviet behavior in Afghanistan. Their involvement continued after the Soviet departure. Alongside of this generous, long-term government assistance, unofficial parallel involvement became increasingly disruptive and disliked. During the Soviet-Afghan war a costly effort was made by private, often religious, Arab agencies to provide educational opportunities for Afghan refugees encamped in Pakistan. Obvious attempts were also made to introduce doctrinal interpretations of Islam espousing teachings of the Wahhabi sect dominant in Saudi Arabia. Such indoctrination was accompanied by a growing stream of free-lance individuals and groups of Arabs seeking to participate in the jihad. As the mujahidin expanded their areas of control after the Soviet forces withdrew, Arabs took part in the capture of villages and towns, especially in Kunar and Nangrahar provinces. Incidents including massacres of men, abductions of women and various atrocities were attributed to them in 1988 and 1989.
Many Afghans resented Wahhabi proselytizing. It was carried out with particular aggressiveness in Kunar. For two years a community of Arabs and Afghan converts dominated the province under the leadership of Jamil-ur-Rahman, a Pushtun native. Other Wahhabi cells were established, including a community at Paghman, which served as the base for Rasul Sayyaf, the mujahidin party leader most closely identified with Saudi Arabia.
Arab policy and behavior appeared intimately mixed. The spreading of a doctrine, recognized as the official Saudi version of Islam, made it difficult to separate religion from politics. From the official perspective Saudi diplomacy toward Afghanistan was aimed at limiting Iranian influence. This objective was given higher priority when it became possible to extend it to the recently sovereign nations of Central Asia. Afghanistan forms the collegial and logistical link through which Arab influence can compete with Iran's in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Such Arab ambitions coupled with apparent attempts to create an Afghan Wahhabi state within a state have deepened Saudi penetration of Afghan politics.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress