In Season 1, Episode 5 of the Guns for Hire podcast, host Alia Brahimi is joined by two guests. She speaks with Cameron Hudson, the former US government expert on Sudan, about the mercenary pedigree of one of the two main belligerent parties, the Rapid Support Forces, and the determinative impact this has had on the current conflict in Sudan. By fighting as mercenaries in Libya, and especially Yemen, the RSF secured a cash windfall that let it recruit in numbers to rival the size of the national army, it forged regional relationships that are now central to its resupply, and it has committed crimes and abuses in the conduct of the war which represent a detached mercenary mindset.
Alia also chats with Professor Munzoul Assal of the University of Khartoum about the danger of two parallel governments emerging in Sudan along the lines of the bifurcation in Libya; the presence of RSF fighters at the Sudanese border with the Central African Republic where the Wagner Group is deeply entrenched; and the clear and alarming possibilities of a regional conflagration.
“The origin story of the wealth is really sending the RSF out into the region as a mercenary force… Hemedti has now been able to return back to his fighting roots but doing it with a war chest that has allowed him to recruit and to resupply in such a way that he is now a rival to the authority of the country.”
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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 normalisation 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.
MENASource Jun 28, 2023
The Wagner rebellion is over—for now. But how will the events reverberate in the Middle East and North Africa?
By Mark N. Katz
The June 23-24 rebellion led by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin—aimed, he claimed, at replacing the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov (not Russian President Vladimir Putin)—has ended. However, reverberations from it are likely to continue being felt beyond Russia, such as in the Middle East and North […]
MENASource May 11, 2023
Experts react: Sudan at the crossroads—where the conflict goes from here
By Benjamin Mossberg, Alia Brahimi, Thomas S. Warrick, Shahira Amin, R. Clarke Cooper
Atlantic Council experts react to the conflict in Sudan and discuss how it will impact the region and beyond.
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.