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Russia’s Growing Influence in Africa, the Wagner Group’s Deployment to Mali.

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The Wagner group is a private military company which was founded in 2014 and played its role in high profile conflicts including Syrian Civil War, Libyan Civil War and Ukraine war. Russia has hired Wagner group forces to fight alongside its own military forces.  In this way, it avoids committing its troops openly so it doesn’t get confronted by NATO. As reported by New York Times Wagner Group has been deployed in Mali. This raises concerns that Wagner Group deployment could lead to escalation of conflict and exacerbate Human Rights abuses in the region. The Article published by New York Times signifies the negative role of Wagner group. It has expanded beyond Middle East and Ukraine now and is known to be their first deployment in Africa. The group is basically hired by Malian Government which pays it $10 million per month for fighting off Islamic insurgents. Wagner group however has accusations of brutal human right abuses, lack of transparency and accountability. USA and France have shown concerns. The Wagner Group’s deployment to Mali is a dangerous sign of Russia’s growing influence in Africa, and it is important for the international community to take action to prevent Russia from further destabilizing the region. It is also believed that Wagner Group has potential to destabilize the region and create safe haven for terrorist groups. Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa: Influence, commercial concessions, rights violations, and counterinsurgency failure | Brookings. (2022, March 9). Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/russias-wagner-group-in-africa-influence-commercial-concessions

Private military Companies are basically commercial entities which provide military aid to government, International Organizations and Non state actors. Private military company services include Armed security, combat support, training, logistics, risk assessment, intelligence gathering and information warfare. Private military companies are seen to be rising in recent decade and in the post cold war era as the states own military expenditure have reduced. PMC have outsourced the traditional state military as they are cheaper, skilled and help states covertly carry out military functions and in keeping politics away from conflicts. These companies play an important role in the Global security, conflicts, operations, peacekeeping and insurgency as well as aiding in fillings gaps in military capabilities. There are also a number of other factors which make them an appealing option like flexibility, speed of deployment, cost friendliness and lesser risk for hiring state. The positive nature of private military companies is evident from their aid in providing food, transportation and supplies to US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Providing training to local afghan forces and help in capacity building measures against counter insurgency. Helping USA Govt in gathering information about terrorist groups in Middle East. Logistic support to UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

However, there are immense consequences linked with the utilization of private military companies.PMCs can reduce accountability, erode state sovereignty, give rise to conflicts, commit human rights abuses, and create a shadow army.

One of the biggest concerns about PMCs is that they are not typically subject to the same level of accountability as government militaries. This means that it can be difficult to hold them accountable for human rights abuses and other misconduct. Additionally, PMCs are often opaque and hideous, which makes it difficult to track their activities.https://inkstickmedia.com/private-military-and-security-companies-are-a-homegrown-threat/

Another concern is that PMCs can undermine state sovereignty. PMCs can operate in countries without the permission of the government, which can lead to a situation where PMCs are more powerful than the state. This can have a number of negative consequences, including human rights abuses and the erosion of the government’s authority. PMCs can also cause conflicts as they are the exploiters which benefit from conflict so they have a tendency to prolong or even start conflicts. Additionally, PMCs are often hired to fight against weaker parties, such as rebels or insurgents. This can lead to a situation where PMCs are overmatched and unable to protect themselves, which can lead to civilian casualties.

PMCs have also been accused of committing a variety of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention. This is because PMCs are often not subject to the same laws and regulations as government militaries. Additionally, PMCs are often operating in conflict zones where there is little or no law and order.

Finally, the increasing use of PMCs by governments has led to concerns about the creation of a shadow army that is not subject to democratic state control. This is a concern because PMCs are often more powerful than government militaries and are not subject to the same level of accountability. Additionally, PMCs are often hired to carry out tasks that would otherwise be performed by government militaries, such as combat operations and intelligence gathering. While PMCs can provide valuable services, such as security for humanitarian organizations and training for government forces, the potential for abuse is significant. It is important to carefully regulate and monitor the activities of PMCs .https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/tr/pdf/ADA488740.pdf

The Wagner Group has been accused of a wide range of wrongdoings, including human rights abuses, undermining the peace process, and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Since its deployment to Mali in December 2021, the Wagner Group has been accused of committing a number of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, looting and pillaging, and kidnappings. The group has also been accused of destroying the country’s fragile peace process and supporting one side in the conflict. In addition to its activities in Mali, the Wagner Group has been accused of wrongdoings in the Central African Republic, Libya, and Ukraine. In the Central African Republic, the group has been accused of committing human rights abuses, including the killing of civilians and the torture of prisoners. In Libya, the group has been accused of supporting the Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army in its civil war against the internationally recognized Government of National Accord. The group has also been accused of planting landmines in and around the Libyan capital, Tripoli. In Ukraine, the Wagner Group has been accused of committing war crimes, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the execution of prisoners of war.

The Wagner Group is a dangerous and destabilizing force in the world. The group’s human rights abuses and its interference in the internal affairs of other countries pose a serious threat to peace and security. It is important to hold the Wagner Group accountable for its actions and to prevent it from continuing to operate with impunity .The international community must take action to hold the Wagner Group accountable and to prevent it from further destabilizing Mali. This could include imposing sanctions on the group and its members, investigating the group’s human rights abuses, supporting the Malian government in its efforts to combat the Wagner Group, and raising awareness of the group’s activities and its impact on Mali and the region. It is also important to address the root causes of the conflict in Mali, such as poverty, inequality, and lack of access to education and healthcare. Addressing these issues would make it more difficult for the Wagner Group to operate and would help to build a more peaceful and prosperous Mali. By taking these steps, the international community can help to protect the people of Mali from the Wagner Group’s predatory ambitions and contribute to a more stable and peaceful Africa.

Writer is Student at Fatima Jinnah Women University

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