Not the only former warlord among the Afghan presidential candidates, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf’s bid for the election is, nonetheless, a prime concern for the West, particularly because he stands a good chance of winning it.
After graduating from the Sharia faculty of Kabul University, Sayyaf received a Masters in Religious Studies from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
Sayyaf travelled to Pakistan in 1970 and instigated political and military activities against the Soviet regime in Afghanistan.
When Dr Najibullah Ahmadzai’s government collapsed, Sayyad was actively involved in the Afghan civil war which continued from 1992 until the Taliban takeover of 1996.
Following the decline of the Mujahideen-led government and the subsequent rise of the Taliban, Sayyaf left Kabul and became a member of the Northern Alliance resistance. He also served as vice president to former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani.
For the 2014 presidential election, he is flanked by Mohammad Ismael as his First Vice President and Abdul Wahab Orfan as his Second Vice President.
- Research and text by Fatema Imani