They are essential for our work. Resources, resources, and only resources make humanity exist and progress. Resources and authority mutually cyclically reinforce one another, as the possession of monetary means begets influence and position, which serve only to procure further financial means in an endless exchange. Everyone strives to be authoritative and strong. If you control resources, you control the world. And what do you do when you don’t have them? That’s right, you come and take them away from someone else, controlling the process under your flag and taking advantage of the land you control – a colony. Colonization is a very flexible expression, it can be described in many different ways. This process began as soon as people started discovering new lands. Over time, this procedure has only changed methods and become more “humane”.
“Hybrid-colonial” conflicts combine traditional military operations with activities such as propagating ideologies, managing money, and quietly altering politics. Special private military groups, like “Wagner”, backed by countries they can come from, are frequently critical to the success of these plans. This “hidden” struggle isn’t just about taking over land; they’re also about gaining crucial things like resources and being the economic boss. In addition, since these private forces take part without clear designation, it challenges determining whether clashes stem from the country or these informal militaries. Even if they partake in something “slightly illegitimate”, they would essentially escape accountability for their actions.
I’m not very well-versed in the African region, but there is something I can already explain to someone who has no idea what is going on there. Recent events in Niger, where a military coup has shaken the country’s democratic transition, even more prove the point. Furthermore, the presence of private military contractors (PMCs) such as “Wagner” proves that there is a “division of territory” which demonstrates that today’s Africa is still a colony in the powerful hands.
Africa, rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, lithium, oil, gas, and uranium, a crucial component for nuclear energy, is a profitable market for global powers seeking economic gain. Due to the natural wealth of the continent, its countries have a long history of colonialism as the world’s biggest players. France’s historical relationships with African states have moved from overt colonial domination to more subtle forms of exploitation. The CFA franc, which is tied to the Euro and is in 14 African countries, demonstrates France’s continuous influence over these economies and policies. This monetary control indirectly serves French objectives by allowing pro-French elites to take significant resources while leaving the mass populace disenfranchised.
However, compared to France, the Wagner group being in Niger puts the country’s control at risk. They have a record of treating people in inhumane ways, and this could make Niger more unsafe, like Mr. Blinken said. Also, Niger’s leaders working with Wagner show how tough things are for some countries when they’re dealing with domestic problems.
It’s interesting to see how the Wagner situation also shows that old times still affect the world today. Countries like Niger used to be ruled by France, and that history still matters. The coup made people there hate France and turn to Russia more. This is similar to what’s happening in Mali and Burkina Faso, where past coups also changed how they feel about other countries. Due to their difficult past experiences, they have now decided to seek assistance from Russia.
Russia getting involved in Africa brings something new to this conflict over resources. They’re using talk about “decolonization” to show African people that they can be a different kind of partner, one which helps them move away from their past connections. This strategy connects with people who are unhappy with how colonialism and outside interference affected them. Russia is using its media and other means to connect with these feelings. This might change the way power works in the region. The situation in Niger shows how there’s a fight between groups supporting France and those supporting Russia. Both want to control important resources. The recent military takeover in Niger highlights how the competition for important resources is getting stronger. Different groups are trying to be in charge using others and tricky methods.
To try to solve all this complexity, many things need to be done. Countries need to create strong systems of democracy and encourage African countries to have different ways to make money and spend it on their economies to help them grow. Also, to support the efforts that people in Africa are already making to be open about what they are doing and to have leaders who make the right choices and are accountable. But there is always a big problem: there will always be someone who wants power and who will do it by any means, in order to achieve a stronger position on the international stage, namely by using manipulation and private military forces to support it in this case.
Featured image: AP Photo/Sam Mednick