The American Foreign Policy magazine said that the US Department of Defense revealed that the UAE is financing Russian Wagner Group mercenaries to support Khalifa Haftar’s militia in the war in Libya, adding that this disclosure came at a time when Abu Dhabi is seeking to buy billions of dollars of US weapons. .
In a report prepared by Amy Mackinnon and Jack Detsch, the magazine said that the report of the Pentagon Inspector General for counterterrorism operations in Africa, published last week, apparently found that the UAE is financing Wagner, pointing out that the disclosure This report is likely to complicate the relationship of the United States of America with the Gulf state.
Foreign Policy went on to say that experts have long suspected that the UAE is using private Russian military contractors to help obscure its role in the ongoing conflict in Libya, but the Pentagon report is the first official assessment of this arrangement.
She said that US military officials have been increasingly forthright in their assessment of the role of Wagner’s mercenaries in destabilizing Libya, amid concerns that the Kremlin may use the conflict to establish a military foothold off the southern shores of Europe.
The report stated that the Africa Command in the Pentagon accused last July the Wagner Group of laying indiscriminate landmines around the capital, Tripoli, and endangering the lives of civilians.
The magazine pointed out that the revelation that the Russian Wagner mercenaries may have been funded by one of America’s closest military allies in the Middle East further complicates Washington’s calculations, and it comes at a time when Democrats in Congress are launching a campaign to oppose the Trump administration’s sale of F-fighter jets. 35 to Abu Dhabi, worth $ 23 billion.
Foreign Policy addressed the statements of Frederick Wehrey, Senior Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in which he said: “It appears now that there is a permanent Russian presence on the NATO front, and this Russian presence in that region has been enabled before. An ally of the United States, in reference to the Emirates. “
Commenting on the report, Kimberly Martin, a professor of political science at Barnard College, said: “The general impression I’ve had for a long time is that Wagner is being funded entirely through foreign contracts.”
The magazine noted that while the UAE was Haftar’s biggest military supporter as part of its broader effort to crush political Islam in the region, the Gulf state’s role in the conflict has received far less scrutiny than Russia’s interference. Experts attribute this to the UAE’s massive lobbying efforts in Washington, and its role in other major US foreign policy goals, such as the “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran and the UAE peace agreement with Israel, which was hailed as a rare success in the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
Foreign Policy pointed out that the UAE is Russia’s closest ally in the Gulf, and while experts have long suspected that the two countries are cooperating closely in Libya, the UAE’s dependence on Russian mercenaries on the ground has also enabled them to obscure its involvement in the ongoing war in Libya.
The cautious wording in the inspector general’s report that “the Defense Intelligence Agency has estimated that the UAE is providing some funding for the Wagner Group’s operations,” is likely a reflection of the political sensitivities involved. The Trump administration has always been reluctant to summon US partners in the Gulf, including the UAE, despite allegations of human rights violations in the war in Yemen, and Trump has gone so far as to say that the United States has no interests in Libya.
Douglas Wise, who served as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2014 to 2016, said, “I would imagine the agency had some good information about the UAE’s support for Wagner. Having a case from the Defense Intelligence Agency would be easy, less formal, and an embarrassment in the way the UAE rebukes its behavior across the board. A diplomatic note or press release from the Defense Ministry or the White House, indicating that this allows the UAE to know that we know what it is doing.
The magazine said that throughout 2020, those following the war in Libya noticed patterns that would indicate closer relations between the UAE and Russia.
In January, there was a significant increase in Russian and Emirati cargo planes – most likely loaded with weapons and ammunition – heading to the east, Libya and western Egypt. Like Russia, the UAE supports Haftar, a former CIA agent who lived for years in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
Jalil Harchaoui, a senior fellow at the Paris-based Global Initiative to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, said that the turning point that alerted the US military and led to monitoring the UAE was the deployment of dozens of Russian fourth-generation fighter jets operated by Wagner in May, which was part of Haftar’s endeavors. To prevent the GNA forces from advancing further.
Harchaoui added, “That moment angered many inside the US Department of Defense, but the only aspect that was announced at that time was AFRICOM naming the Russians and publicly exposing them,” adding that the other side is that the Americans knew very well that part of Wagner’s mission in Libya had been Its costs were paid by Abu Dhabi. “
Foreign Policy, in its report, concluded: But while the US elections were still pending, the departure of the Trump administration makes it easier for the Pentagon to speak out now.
“Hinting at that in May was a tougher suggestion than now,” Harchaoui said. The UN Panel of Experts, which is providing reports on possible sanctioned activities in conflict areas, said the UAE has repeatedly violated the world body’s embargo on arms transfers to Libya.
Foreign Policy concluded its report with Frederick Weary of Carnegie for International Peace: “We have learned that there is field coordination between the UAE and Wagner on the battlefield in Libya.” He added, “But Abu Dhabi’s funding of Wagner is nothing but another addition to the indictment that exposes the complicity of the UAE.”