Posts contrassegnato dai tag ‘mercenaries’

Mercenaries have never completely disappeared from the battlefield. From the Landsknechts to the Swiss Guards, passing through foreign volunteers integrated into national armed forces like the French Foreign Legion and the Spanish Tercio, these irregular figures date back to the dawn of conflicts, and their condition has always offered the same advantages. First of all, from a work standpoint, mercenaries themselves, in order to wage war and earn a good living, do not have to wait for their country to participate in a conflict, but can always find an opportunity to fight. The biggest advantage, however, is for those who hire them. Mercenaries can be liquidated within 24 hours and it can be ensured that they will never denounce violations of rights or atrocities, since they would be the first to suffer; above all, no one has to account for their deaths or for the actions these war professionals carry out in the field, which are theoretically not attributable to the responsibilities of states.

However, in recent years, mercenaries have lost their traditional condition of “almost invisibility” to become real and proper bodies of the army, in addition to the regular ones: therefore, the idea is increasingly widespread that their actions should be answered for by the states that use them, even if governments continue to play the card of “they are not mine.”

In the United States they are called contractors, and they fought the last wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in Russia, they are the “collaborators” of the Wagner Group, who, in addition to being present in several African countries, are fighting on the front lines in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Both of these realities have several dark sides. Just think of the ambiguities of Dick Cheney, Vice President of the USA during the time of George W. Bush, who favored Halliburton, a giant in the sector of equipment and contractors, for supplies. Even more opaque is the history of the Russian Wagner Group, founded in 2013 by the oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin, active in catering, together with former intelligence colonel Dmitry Utkin, who sympathizes with Nazism. Prigozhin’s proximity to the Kremlin has led his activities to transform, from catering to wars.

Today, the Wagner Group’s mercenaries are active in half of Africa: Amnesty International has repeatedly reported their massacres and violations of human rights. In the last two years, in addition to managing gold mines and training local troops, they have played a role in all the coups that have taken place on the continent, from Mali to Burkina Faso to Sudan. This is a veritable force of destabilization that formally answers to no one and acts without respecting any rules.

It is incredible that almost nothing is known (and said) about the fact that a mercenary group is deposing governments and spreading terror across a continent. Perhaps this silence arises from the fact that the figure of the mercenary-contractor is useful not only to the Russians and their Chinese partners in Africa, but represents a new frontier of global warfare, because the system of international law provides that states or people who officially embody them are the ones most affected. Instead, mercenaries remain anonymous, have no personal ambitions, and officially do not fight for anyone.

It is yet another paradox of our times. Regular armies are often stiffened by increasingly stringent rules, while conflicts on the field are fought using outlaw forces. The peoples who suffer the consequences are not even consoled by the knowledge that justice will one day be done.