icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
19 Jul, 2023 11:39

George Clooney calls for ‘dismantling’ of Wagner PMC

Two American celebrity activists have urged Western nations to use their experience of Al-Qaeda to tackle the Russian group
George Clooney calls for ‘dismantling’ of Wagner PMC

The US and its allies should seize the opportunity to sanction and prosecute the Wagner private military company in the wake of the aborted mutiny by its chief, Evgeny Prigozhin, according to two American celebrity activists.

The call was made on Monday by actor George Clooney and author John Prendergast, who also served on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. They said there was an “unprecedented opportunity to counter” Russia’s influence in Africa by going after Wagner.

In a column they wrote for The Economist magazine, Clooney and Prendergast described the private military company as one of Moscow’s “most successful foreign-policy initiatives during the past decade” and an “atrocity.”

Wagner has been offering security services to some governments in Africa. The celebrities claimed the group was “protecting the regime [in the Central African Republic] in exchange for mineral concessions” and a way to “hijack a government.” They promoted a report on Wagner’s activities released by their NGO, The Sentry, which alleged that the group “seeks to disable multinational predatory networks.”

Evgeny Prigozhin led a brief mutiny in Russia last month, moving some of the group’s forces from Ukraine towards Russian cities. The maneuver was aborted after a deal was struck with the government, which offered him exemption from prosecution in exchange for going into de facto exile.

Clooney and Prendergast believe that the Wagner Group’s presence in Africa, which they described as a “virus,” will continue. However, the transition period can be used by Western nations to “take action against both the operation and its originator.”

“They should create an ad hoc coalition aimed at dismantling the group’s business empire, building on lessons from similar efforts focused on Islamic State and Al-Qaeda,” they suggested.

Islamic State emerged in the mid-2010s amid chaos in Iraq and Syria. Iraq had been occupied by a US-led coalition a decade earlier. Syria was hit by Western-supported anti-government protests in 2011, which quickly escalated into a civil war. Some of Washington’s closest regional allies, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, reportedly supplied arms to anti-Damascus groups, as did the CIA.

Al-Qaeda stemmed from the US-backed campaign to support anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980s. While Washington considers it a terrorist organization, in 2012 Jake Sullivan infamously celebrated the fact that it was “on our side” in Syria, according to leaked US diplomatic cables. The incumbent national security adviser to US President Joe Biden was serving in Hillary Clinton’s Department of State at the time.