Ebu Masum Mücahit*
Similar to the Legion and Wagner, mercenaries have been extensively employed by various imperialist nations throughout history. Civilizations such as the Romans, Byzantines (and more recently the British), the United States, and Russia are among those who have utilized mercenaries. Even in the 21st century, mercenary units remain prevalent, primarily employed by colonialist countries. Despite their relatively small population, the British, who once established an empire on which the sun never set, maintained their global dominance through the utilization of mercenaries in the 1900s. Each year, Australian citizens travel to Turkey to commemorate the Australian mercenaries who lost their lives in the Gallipoli Campaign, underscoring the enduring presence of mercenary services, akin to the renowned Legion soldiers known as Anzacs. Tomorrow, it is expected that colonial states, in particular, will continue to rely extensively on the use of mercenary services.
Wagner's involvement in an attempted coup against Russian President Putin has once again brought the issue of mercenary services to the forefront. Despite the prohibition on establishing private military units in Russia, Wagner managed to operate unlawfully, owing to its close association with Putin's power. While directly linked to Putin, Wagner has played a prominent role in various Russian operations. The impact of Wagner's activities is particularly noticeable in African countries, where a global power struggle akin to that of the 1930s has unfolded behind the scenes of the Anglo-French conflict. The British are strengthening their dominion in Africa, while the French have faced setbacks on the frontlines. Notably, the British prefer to exert influence indirectly, and Wagner has served as a tool in this regard. As a mercenary group originating from Russia, Wagner has been involved in conflicts against the French and several other nations in Mali, Libya, Central Africa, Syria, and various other regions.
Wagner is widely recognized as an organization linked to Russian intelligence, with a distinct and privileged status that grants it access to extensive data from Russian intelligence sources. The establishment of Wagner began gradually in the 2010s but gained significant prominence in 2014 when it took an active role in protecting Russia's interests, particularly in the Donbas region, against separatist militants. Subsequently, Wagner experienced rapid growth. The organization has undertaken numerous successful operations, notably during the Russian-Ukrainian War, with its number of fighters exceeding 20,000. During the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian government's struggle to effectively coordinate with its disciplined military created internal conflicts between the leadership of Wagner and the Ministry of Defense. These tensions began to surface in various areas. The most influential figure within Wagner, Yevgeni Prigojin, found himself at odds with the defense minister, resulting in open threats directed towards the latter and further escalating the tension. It is worth noting that other factors also contributed to this strained relationship.
Who is this Prigogen?
Yevgeni Prigojin, the founder of Wagner, was originally a merchant involved in the restaurant industry with a chain of restaurants. As a businessman, he held significant influence over the organization due to his financial contributions. Wagner was commercially registered in Argentina, with an office in Hong Kong, as it lacked official recognition in Russia. The legionnaires or over 20,000 soldiers within Wagner's ranks come from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. While the leadership and ideology of Wagner are rooted in Russian nationalism, there are also many soldiers of Middle Eastern and African origin. The reasons behind the fallout between Prigojin and Putin remain a topic of speculation. It is unclear why Putin or the regular Russian army targeted Wagner's headquarters, leading to clashes and tensions. The troops of Wagner even approached Moscow at one point but subsequently withdrew, leading to further questions about the nature of their operations. The dynamics within Wagner were influenced by its mercenary composition, making it responsive to those who provided financial support. The entity wielding the financial "sword" held significant influence. There have been allegations, particularly in April, suggesting that the United States had “bought” the service of Wagner. While Wagner initially played a prominent role in the Ukrainian War, its success began to wane after April, coinciding with reported clashes between Prigojin and the regular army, as well as the defence minister. These developments lend some credence to the claim of U.S. involvement, although it remains a matter of speculation.
The soldiers of Wagner had advanced as far as Moscow. However, due to the actions of the air force, which resulted in the bombing of the Wagner convoy, as well as the intervention of the Belarusian president, the Wagner unit is now rendered inactive in Russia. Wagner's movement towards Moscow with its 20,000 soldiers coincided with indications that Putin, particularly after a decline in their effectiveness and success, intended to remove them. The known approach of Putin involves a soft transition rather than a harsh intervention. In the global landscape, colonial nations are engaged in conflicts with one another. Russia's collaboration with England in safeguarding British interests has raised concerns for France and the United States. The internal turmoil in Russia, leading to the withdrawal of Russian forces, brings relief to France while England emerges victorious. Wagner, having undergone a purge, will likely continue operations in Africa. Putin succeeded with Wagner, France faced defeat against the USA. This sets the stage for a rematch, as evidenced by the internal turmoil in France, the street protests following the police killing of a 17-year-old teenager, the declaration of a state of emergency, and the implementation of curfews at night. This rematch entails political instability and unfortunate consequences for the disadvantaged sections of society.
Legionnaires and mercenaries have historically served as tools employed by capitalist and colonial powers. Wagner, among others, falls into this category. Similar structures have been utilized by countries like the United States, Russia, and others. Islamic societies also have individuals who work as free soldiers, either for low wages or even without pay, finding employment in capitalist nations' security services and institutions. In various Islamic societies, there are individuals, such as the Belams, who exhibit a loyalty surpassing even that of monarchs. Such dynamics have contributed to the enduring strength of these imperialist countries, enabling them to exploit Islamic societies and their lands.
During Wagner's movement towards Moscow, Chechen leader Kadyrov expressed his willingness to declare war and establish borders against Wagner, should Putin desire it. Islamic societies have other leaders like Kadyrov, who align with certain factions or powers, often with the support of scholars and bureaucratic structures, despite their questionable actions. It is worth noting that Russia had previously conducted bombings in Chechnya, targeting Kadyrov's country for several years. The motivations behind Kadyrov's decision to oppose Wagner, a mercenary force, without seeking monetary compensation, remain unclear. In a similar vein, in the past, when the United States invaded Iraq, many people and scholars expressed support for the intervention.
Global colonial powers, similar to Kadyrov, continue to exploit and manipulate Islamic societies in many parts of the world. These societies are often portrayed as unaware, uninformed, leaderless, and lacking a cohesive state structure. The manipulation of these communities is facilitated through the use of purchased leaders and individuals who serve the interests of external powers. This dynamic further strengthens the grip of capitalist colonial powers on these regions.
In the context of Syria, for instance, Hashd al-Shaabi fighters, who work for low wages, are portrayed as jihadists, but in reality, some of them align with the interests of France and England. The Taliban, which has seemingly acted against the United States for years, was brought back to power in Afghanistan without significant investments, unlike Wagner. The weaponry used by both powers was once again supplied by imperialist countries. The United States, in particular, is expected to utilize such groups, especially against China. The Taliban, despite appearing to be against America, ultimately comply with American interests through the financial support they receive.
Furthermore, organizations like Boko Haram and Ash-Shabab are manipulated and utilized in Islamic societies, often with low fees or no compensation. The structures that Islam and Muslims have lost were not directly paid and hierarchical like Wagner, but rather consisted of deceived societies. These individuals, lacking a true understanding of Islam, were enticed with promises of worldly gains and supposed rewards in the afterlife. They were gathered through misleading agents on the internet and used according to the agents' desires. These groups act against their own people, pursuing their own interests, shedding Muslim blood, aligning themselves with the West, and contributing to the erosion of Islamic values and prestige within society.
It is crucial for Muslims to work in their own interests and for so-called scholars, like the Belams, to stop acting in line with the interests of those in power and authority. They should instead align themselves solely with the will of Allah. Muslims should not idolize their religious leaders in the way that Jews and Christians worship their priests. Islam does not have a clergy title; every Muslim is responsible for their own faith. As the Messenger of Allah stated in his farewell sermon, "I leave you two things: the Qur'an and my Sunnah. If you hold fast to them, you will never go astray." Anyone who does not adhere to the Qur'an and the Sunnah should leave any institutional or structural positions. Otherwise, we become voluntary soldiers serving the very people we stand against.
*Translated from Turkish by: Mohammad Nadimur Rahman