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Podcast

January 10, 2024

Mercenaries and Gaza

By Alia Brahimi

In Season 1, Episode 10 of the Guns for Hire podcast, host Alia Brahimi is joined by Renad Mansour, an expert on Iraq, Iran, and allied groups. As the region convulses from the war in Gaza, they begin by assessing reports that the Wagner Group has been tasked with transferring a Russian air defense system from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. They go on to discuss the rivalry between Russia and Iran in the Middle East, what is motivating the non-state actors leading the bid, and whether elements of the Iran-backed Shi’a militia that have fanned out across the region can be classified as mercenaries. Alia and Renad also consider parallels between the campaign in Gaza and the violence and futility of the 2003 Iraq war.

“There will be within these networks and this massive web of [Shi’a] armed groups those that are economically inclined, those that do see economic opportunity in trade or in taking advantage of conflict”.

Renad Mansour, Iraq expert

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About the Podcast

The Guns for Hire podcast is a production of the Atlantic Council’s North Africa Initiative. Taking Libya as its starting point, it explores the causes and implications of the growing use of mercenaries in armed conflict.

The podcast features guests from many walks of life, from ethicists and historians to former mercenary fighters. It seeks to understand what the normalization of contract warfare tells us about the world as we currently find it, but also about the future of the international system and about what war could look like in the coming decades.

Further reading

Middle East Programs

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

Image: Israeli soldiers walk as they operate, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza, January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun EDITOR'S NOTE: REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHS WERE REVIEWED BY THE IDF AS PART OF THE CONDITIONS OF THE EMBED. TWO PHOTOS WERE REMOVED BY REUTERS UPON IDF REQUEST, CITING SECURITY CONCERNS. ONE SHOWED A TANK MARKING AND THE OTHER EXPOSED A LOCATION OF TROOPS.