This week’s attack by the Taliban on the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF’s) Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was presented in the UK in headline terms as a risk to the life of Prince Harry, who, as it was revealed after the event, and unlike the treatment regular servicemen would have had, received a security detail to guard him, and was moved to a safe location. However, in the aftermath and beyond the headline sensationalism, barely mentioned, if at all, in the body of the reportage by corporate-media, it later became known that the US had suffered the loss of a significant number of airplanes in what must have been a sophisticated assault by the Taliban. In this light, therefore, and given that there are regular attacks on ISAF supply convoys in Afghanistan and Pakistan† that are never reported by British corporate journalism, the story of how the Prince ran away looks like a decoy. Moreover, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s happiness to reveal operational details, albeit superficial ones, seems to signify a ready willingness to sacrifice the Prince’s reputation amongst the public, and respect for him amongst his colleagues, in order to maintain a myth about NATO dominance on the Afghan battlefield.
There is a school of thought that believes, from the available evidence, that ISAF (for which, read NATO), on behalf of Western corporate-financier uber-government, remain in Afghanistan, despite many a vow by many a President or Prime Minister to withdraw, because leverage must be held, and perhaps more purchase won, for negotiations with the Taliban regarding who gets what share of the planned TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline. In the context of this scheme, if NATO needs to win more bargaining power, its strategy to do so seems, from the layman’s perspective, to allow the Taliban to wear itself out; there have been a string of audacious attacks by the insurgents across the country in the last year or so. NATO, on the other hand, looks content to patrol the parcels of opium-producing land that it controls, although in this respect too, NATO’s operations are being severely undermined by so-called ‘green on blue’ attacks by supposed friendly Afghan security personnel.
The attack on Camp Bastion this week, however, was described by an ISAF spokesman as ‘significant’, and given both its execution and the rewards that it garnered for the Taliban, may have been a long time in the preparation and the planning. The approximately 15 insurgents that staged the attack were dressed in US Army uniforms – a tactic that is designed to allow assailants get closer to their target than usually they would be able to before fighting started, and may have even been the means by which the Taliban penetrated what is supposed to be the best-defended base in Afghanistan.
The purpose of the attack appears to have been to destroy certain materiel because the attackers have been described as ‘instantly’ setting fire to 8 parked Navy-AV-8B Harrier jets. A running gun battle ensued for the next two and a half hours. According to RT, a military official had told the Times that it was ‘a very sophisticated attack’, and what’s more seemed to be saying that there was not a precedent for losing aircraft in that way. Indeed, RT was quick to remind its audience that the loss of such a large number of planes in one day had not been suffered by the US since Vietnam. In terms of the Taliban’s capabilities, the attack was consistent with other operations that have been carried out by them – especially in April this year – and, combined, they indicate an ability to cause their own attrition of crucial NATO resources, and degrade US control – and therefore that all important leverage in negotiations.
There was also a meme in the corporate-media that the Camp Bastion attack was part and parcel of a response, by a certain section of Islam, to the film which originated in the US and is supposed to be so insulting that it set off a wave of indignant Muslim protest across the world. Independent observers generally believe that the film is a deliberate provocation in a scheme planned by a faction of the US Establishment which will pave the way to war with Iran, and perhaps accordingly, the British corporate-media projected its importance in respect to this attack – although the Taliban did seem to prompt the angle of coverage themselves. Qari Yousuf Ahmadion, a Taliban spokesman (a class of person who are now known to be wildly inaccurate at times), was cited by the BBC as blaming the Camp Bastion attack on the anti-Muhammad film; a detail that even ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz said made the Taliban lose credibility.
Attempting to foist an Orwellian contruction of events on a watching public, the UK Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, in an interview with TV presenter, Jeremy Paxman, preposterously tried to conflate the concepts of Harry as a normal serviceman who would be expected to put himself in harm’s way, and Harry as a VIP who would be given ‘additional security arrangements’ as a matter of protocol. The Government’s revelation that Prince Harry was guarded during the Taliban assault on Camp Bastion is thought by some observers to have been an entirely unnecessary admission that suggests that the news about Harry was a deliberate attempt to divert attention away from what was a considerable military disaster; even NATO-backed forces in Syria, who have for some considerable time been trying to destroy government forces aircraft on the ground, have not been able to emulate the achievement.
Peace negotiations between the Taliban and the US were in preliminary stages when the Taliban called them off after March’s slaughter of villagers in Panjwayi District, Kandahar, by what witnesses described as a unit of US soldiers.
[† a report on this subject is due soon in these pages]