Islamic Fundamentalism in Afghanistan

Its Character and Prospects

by Graham Fuller

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The Afghan fundamentalist (Islamist) movement, which has been active in Afghan politics since the late 1960s, has been powerfully reinforced by the Soviet invasion and, subsequently, by the mujahidin's sensational victory over the Red Army. This report reviews the foundations of Islamist strength, considers whether Islamists will come to power, reviews weaknesses of Islamist parties, and considers implications for the United States if an Islamist regime were to come to power. The author concludes that, although the Islamists have established a "permanent" place in Afghan politics, their position is likely to change as a new, postcommunist phase begins in Afghanistan. The probability that radical Islamists will exercise exclusive power in Afghanistan is slight, but they will always be a factor in Afghan politics, and their exclusion from governance could be the root of prolonged civil conflict. Finally, while radical Islamists will remain cool to the United States, they are unlikely to vehemently oppose it under any circumstances.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

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