RISE OF WESTERN MERCENARIES

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Dr M Ali Hamza

Spokesperson of Russian defense ministry Igor Konashenkov briefed lately that mercenaries are under recruitment by the West to raid Russia’s military convoy, attack aviation, using US Javelin and UK NLOW anti-tank missiles, man-portable air-defense system Stinger, and other weapons, supplied by the West. Moreover US intelligence launched a mass campaign to recruit more mercenaries, for instance Great Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, and Croatia legally authorized their citizens to take part in the conflict, while France plans to send ethnic Ukrainians. There also are reports out of Senegal, where the Senegalese government lodged a note of protest to the Ukarinian embassy, against its mercenary recruitment campaign in Senegal.

Around 16,000 foreign mercenaries are expected to arrive in Ukraine, and are offered $2,000 a day to fight Putin; though the risk is there but $60, 000 a month is still good money. Claim by the Moscow cannot be taken as a flat lie, because recent history is evident that West developed and deployed mercenaries to push New World Order. Some of these mercenaries turned into a global threat as organized militant groups; example of Al-Qaeda and ISIS fits best in this scenario. But instead of discussing the list of mercenaries that turned into terrorist groups, let’s have some analysis of last few decades to understand how US lead western hemisphere normalized the use of mercenaries and that rationalizes the recent claim from the Kremlin.

The concept of mercenaries has always been there in covert wars.  Mercenaries are also known as hired gun, shadow soldiers or a soldier of fortune. These are the individuals who are an outsider to the conflict, not a member of any official military and take part in military conflict for personal reasons. Reasons vary; it could be emotional, religious, ethnic, humanitarian or financial, depending on who is using them, and how are they used. Whatever the reason a mercenary or his clan fights for, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured service personnel of a regular army, means no prisoner-of-war status. UN Mercenary Convention of 1989 that came into force in 2001, its article 1.2 broadens the definition to include a non-national recruited to overthrow a “Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or undermine the territorial integrity of a State”. In basic terms, all UN members agree that mercenaries should not be engaged, either to topple any government or to participate in any bilateral conflict. .

Though UN laws and declarations exist but appear to be dysfunctional, because the market for illicit force has grown and has diversified in recent years. Industry of hired guns was catalyzed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because the US hired thousands of armed civilians to conduct defensive military operations like convoy, personnel, and compound security. Many of them were not even Americans. According to a bipartisan commission report released to the US Congress in February 2011, the heavy reliance on private security companies in current contingency operations, begun during the Bush Administration, and surged under President Barack Obama.

Once the US left Iraq and Afghanistan, the mercenary labor pool they created began looking for new clientele. Some ended up in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, and offering progressively lethal services. Thus American wars normalized mercenary use.  Washington ignored the Geneva Convention and instead referred to mercenaries using vague terminology: private military companies, private security companies, private military security companies, defense contractors and contingency contractors. Such deceptive words cannot erase the historical account of last few decades that US invested on mercenaries.  During World War II, about 10 percent of America’s armed forces were contracted, but during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that proportion reached to 50 percent. This swelling of numbers signals that US has no respect for UN conventions and considers the use of mercenaries as no illicit act. Additionally, the United Nations, EU, and international community did nothing serious about the problem effectively. So when a superpower uses mercenaries and gets away with it, then everyone can do the same. The American precedent unleashed the market for force, even a new dimension of cyber-mercenaries called “hack back” been added. Private force has become big business, and global in scope. No one truly knows how many billions of dollars are involved around this illicit market. All we know is that business is booming and credit goes to none, but the US. Washington’s reliance on mercenaries to fight its wars has transformed into a strategic vulnerability, not just for US but for the globe.

Moreover, in 2021, German authorities arrested the two ringleaders, who wanted to recruit up to 150 men and offered $10,000 a week to join their private army. They possessed a horde of weapons and nuclear waste. The plan: Go to Yemen, kill Houthis, and bill the Saudis; another example from the West.

So the Kremlin’s claim is substantiated and makes it easy to trust the reliability of their intelligence reports. Are we going to witness the making of another Al-Qaeda? But this time the title would have the tint of western language instead of Arabic, because this time religion is not going to be the tool to fool, but the card will be “Eine humanitäre krise” or “a humanitarian crisis”.