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Cold War in the Islamic WorldSaudi Arabia, Iran and the Struggle for Supremacy$
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Dilip Hiro

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190944650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190944650.001.0001

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The Saudi-Iranian Race to Influence the Muslim World

The Saudi-Iranian Race to Influence the Muslim World

(p.111) 7 The Saudi-Iranian Race to Influence the Muslim World
Cold War in the Islamic World

Dilip Hiro

Oxford University Press

Saudi Arabia backed the Islamization drive by Pakistan’s military ruler General Zia ul Haq, a Sunni. Its official aid to his government was supplemented by contributions from Islamic charities, foundations, mosque collections, and royal princes. When Haq issued a decree in July 1980 for the compulsory collection of religiously enjoined tax of zakat, to be used as charity by the state, Shia leaders protested. They argued that they were required to pay one-fifth of their trading profits to a grand ayatollah of their choice. Haq issued an exemption for Shias. But he and the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate encouraged radical elements in the Society of Scholars of Islam organization to form a militantly Sunni group, Sipah-e-Sahaba. It secured additional funding from Riyadh’s General Intelligence Directorate. After igniting anti-Shia riots in Lahore in 1986, it started killing prominent Shias. Militant Shias formed Soldiers of Muhammad group to commit tit-for-tat assassinations. The killing of the Iranian Counsel General in Lahore highlighted the Saudi-Iranian proxy war. In Afghanistan, when Moscow intervened militarily in December 1979, Khomeini condemned it. Iran implemented its own anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan while staying clear of the US-Saudi-Pakistani jihad against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul.

Keywords:   Zia ul Haq, Islamization of Pakistan, Pakistani Shia protest, ISI directorate, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Soldiers of Muhammad, Anti-Shia riots, Soviets in Afghanistan, Anti-Soviet jihad

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