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Saudi Prince Says that the West Encouraged Wahhabism

Updated on November 10, 2021
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MG is a senior air warrior who has seen combat and is an alumnus of the Staff College and a writer on military matters.


Before I write anything further we must understand what Wahhabism is. Wahhabism is an Islamic doctrine that traces its origin to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. He was a preacher who lived in the 18th century ( 1703-1792). He was a Sunni and started a reform movement. Ibn Al-Wahhab believed in the purest form of Islam and it will not be out of place to mention that the Saudi State is built on the principles outlined by Abd al-Wahhab.

Wahhabism wants a return to Islamic law as practiced during the time of Muhammed and also all customs and rituals that do not conform to those ancient principles must be banned. To spread Whabbism, Ibn al-Wahhab and his followers thought that the use of the sword was justified and non-believers had no place in their system.

Wahhabism has tremendous appeal among many Muslims and the West when confronted with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan thought it a good idea to motivate the Muslims to fight the Soviets under the cloak of Wahabbism. To sy this was a shortsighted policy is an understatement, because it opens the floodgates to extremist philosophy all over the world.

Saudi Prince Speaks Out

The West and the USA thought that with the defeat of the Soviets, Wahabbism would die away. However, it did not happen that way and now the cat is out of the bag as some stunning revelations have been made by the Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to his information which he mentioned in an interview with the Washington Post, the crown prince said that it was the West that initially asked Saudi Arabia to spread Wahhabism to counter the then-Soviet Union.

Wahhabism is an extreme form of Islam and the Western powers thought it would be an excellent tool to beat Soviet Russia. The Outlook has reported that this led to Saudi funding of Madrassas and the construction of mosques all over the world to stop the rising tide of communism. The West has always had a paranoid fear of Russia and this led them to cultivate the Taliban as well.

One can recollect that one of the "Rambo" series of action films started with a quote “dedicated to the Afghan Mujahideen.” Later it was removed as the Americans felt embarrassed by it. The reason for this is simple as the Afghan Mujahideen in the form of the Taliban was created by the CIA and this fact cannot be denied.

Fear of Russia

The crown prince has said that initial investments in mosques and Madrassas were routed through Pakistan but later the Saudi government gave money directly. The crown prince has admitted that money was also given to the Taliban.

Everything was going fine till the 9/11 attacks took place and the Western powers led by the USA and UK realized they had committed a blunder. The Taliban which they had created and supported had turned against them. The Saudis continued their funding at that time as it was not possible to backtrack at once. The fact remains that it was the Western powers led by Britain and the USA that encouraged the spread of the extreme form of Islam.

They felt this was essential as it would be a bulwark against Russia and the Pan Arab Nationalism being spread by Gamel Nassar, the Egyptian president. Until the 9/11 attack the western powers led by the USA had an ambivalent attitude to the Taliban and other extremist forces. Many in the American think tank at that time also felt that they could use the Taliban to further American interests all over the world. This line of thought crashed after the 9/11 attack.

Western encouragement

The Saudis funded Madrassas, which were the breeding ground of Wahhabism. Much earlier there is some evidence that the British did encourage Wahhabism with a view to drive a wedge in Islam and help them establish control. At that time the West encouraged it and turned a blind eye to the spread of Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia. But they were in for a shock after 9/11 when they realized that they had overshot their mandate.

Last word

The Americans, with their support of the Taliban, were able to get the Russians to leave Afghanistan but when their own protégé turned against them they were initially nonplussed. The Taliban metamorphosed into ISIS and there are reports that the emirate did receive Saudi Money.

The die is now cast but the paranoid fear of Russia has not gone as can be seen by the expulsion of over 85 diplomats by the UK and USA. The world seems to be getting back to square one and the cold war. But there is a difference as now the Wahabbists have made the West their main target.

The defeat of the United States in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban is something that cannot be glossed over. The Taliban follow a form of Wahabbism and they have already started their antics by hanging one of the women football players. I will not be surprised if the Americans once again shake the hands of the Taliban and it will confirm what the Saudi prince said in his interview.


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