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Thursday, January 26, 2023

‘White hands’: The rise of private armies in African conflicts | Al Jazeera

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Subcontracting the Subcontractors: Private Military Contractors and Conflict Region Governance 

Human Rights Watch denounced the massacre of hundreds of people by the Malian army and foreign forces in the town of Moura. The mercenaries are thought to be part of the Russian-backed Wagner outfit, which presently has the only Russian troops in Mali. Witnesses said that around 300 civilian individuals, some of them suspected combatants, were summarily killed during that period. More African countries are awarding billions of dollars to private military contractors, establishing a profitable market for military subcontracting. Cameroon hired Israelis to train an elite battalion suspected of torching towns and carrying out arbitrary executions in its operations against separatists and Boko Haram.

Private military businesses face fewer governmental hurdles, which has increased their attractiveness, according to Ryan Cummings, head of consultancy company Signal Risk. In 2016, Nigerian media uncovered details of a deal between the office of the national security advisor and three businesses supplying the country’s military with about 147 mercenaries. Since 2018, around 2,000 Wagner operatives have been instrumental in repressing insurgents in the Central African Republic, protecting Bangui and, therefore, the Faustin-Archange Touadéra regime. The violence, which was sparked by continuous battles between herders and farmers, claimed over 2,600 civilian lives in 2021. Over the previous decade, foreign mercenaries have been accused of crimes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic (CAR). 

They are accused of “human rights crimes” such as “enforced disappearances, summary executions, indiscriminate murders, and sexual exploitation and torture.” In Mali, the deployment of Wagner operators concurrent with the withdrawal of French forces stationed there to combat armed groups has strained ties between Bamako and Paris. Additionally, there is controversy about the efficiency of foreign mercenaries in light of their lack of detailed understanding of the country in which they operate. 

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/4/28/white-hands-the-rise-of-private-militaries-in-african-conflict 

 

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