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Mysterious Attack on Wagner’s Troops |

Mysterious Attack on Wagner’s Troops |

Drone attack in the desert causes resentment: Is the United States exploiting the dispute over Wagner in Russia to disrupt the operations of Russian mercenaries in Africa and the Middle East?

Istanbul. A drone attack on a base of the Wagner mercenary group in the Libyan desert raises the question of whether the militia can continue its operations in the Middle East and Africa after the dispute between its chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Kremlin.

The Libyan government confirmed the attack on the al-Khadima base in eastern Libya over the weekend, but does not want to know who the attacker was. Suspicions fall on the United States, which may want to exploit the dispute over Wagner in Russia to disrupt the operations of Russian mercenaries in Africa and the Middle East.

The Libyan army stated that the attack on the Al-Khadima base near the city of Kharouba, about 150 km southeast of the coastal city of Benghazi, did not result in any deaths, according to the French News Agency. The base had already been bombed in January. A Russian plane was destroyed – apparently by the Americans, as the “Washington Post” reported at the time, citing US intelligence documents.

The United States did not comment on the new attack. What is clear, however, is that Washington sees the conflict between Prigozhin and the Russian leadership, which escalated into a brief uprising last weekend, as an opportunity to increase pressure on the now largely defunct remnants of the Wagner Group in the Middle East and Syria. A few days ago, the US government issued new sanctions against gold companies it believes are helping to finance Wagner’s operations in the Middle East. Washington announced other steps to dry up revenue streams.

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Russia against mercenaries

Wagner’s mercenaries are exposed in Libya and other countries because after Prigozhin’s rebellion they can no longer count on Russian protection. In some places, Russia is putting pressure on mercenaries: According to a report in the New York Times, some Wagner bases in Syria were surrounded by Russian forces after Prigozhin’s uprising. The Saudi Al-Hadath channel reported that the Russian military police and Syrian intelligence arrested Wagner mercenaries and searched the group’s offices in Damascus and two other Syrian cities. Wagner denied arrests, but not searches. The Wall Street Journal reported that Moscow had asked the Syrian leadership not to allow Wagner mercenaries to leave Syria without Russian permission.

Several hundred Wagner mercenaries are still stationed in Libya to support rebel general Khalifa Haftar in the power struggle against the Libyan government. Haftar, who also receives aid from Egypt and the UAE, rules eastern Libya, while Turkey supports the government in Tripoli in western Libya.

Anas Al-Qummati, director of the Sadiq Institute, a Libyan think tank, reported, citing military circles, that the Wagner base in Al-Khadima was attacked by Turkish-made Akinci combat drones. They caused material damage and thus weakened the Wagner Group in Libya, Gomati wrote on Twitter. The Libyan government bought Akinci drones from Türkiye last year. However, it is questionable whether the government in Tripoli is militarily strong enough to seek to escalate the conflict against Haftar and his supporters.

Libya as a centre

For Wagner, Libya was and remains not only an operational area, but also a logistics hub for activities in neighboring Sudan and Central Africa. All Eyes on Wagner, which tracks mercenary operations using flight data and other publicly available information, has reported that the Wagner Group supplied weapons from Libya to Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The general has been fighting for power in Sudan with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since the spring of this year.

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After Prigozhin rebelled against the Kremlin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Wagner’s missions in Africa should continue. According to The New York Times, the Kremlin has assured several governments in Africa that operations will be controlled directly by Moscow from now on. Prigozhin lives in exile in Belarus.