This article surveys the various types of ‘no-flag’ operations and their applicability to the present crisis in the Persian gulf, involving ships, submarines, missiles and sea-mines.
A ‘no-flag’ operation is an operation conducted while undeclared and when the operatives are either scantly marked or entirely unmarked.
These differ from ‘false-flag operations’, where a unit of one army impersonates to belong to its enemy. The very term ‘false-flag’ originated in the maritime domain, where a ship of one country would fraudulently sail under the flag of another county.
An example from modern ground warfare is when the Israeli army during the October 1973 war used Egyptian tanks, caught in the Sinai, within context of its larger scale armored operations on the Egyptian side of the Suez-canal. This helped greatly in curbing the SA-2 batteries in the height of that “cold” war.
The tensions around Iran seem to be on the rise throughout this year and so do the clandestine warfare and public guesstimates on the subject, fed by generations of no-flag and false-flag operations by various countries, chiefly the UK, USA & Russia . Operations which are not genuinely flagged are intended to defer the blame from the perpetrators, by means of firstly not producing any physical evidence pointing at whoever was involved, and thereafter engaging the media in a propaganda smear campaign focused on the targeted scapegoat, either in order to justify aggression against it or in order to neutralize it by means of public de-legitimization.
In this regard it is also important to remember that the world’s public opinion is regimented under the reign of the English language, thus chiefly by the MSM of Anglo-America and by their complementary faction in the English speaking Alternative media.
USS Liberty : The undeclared visitor
The crisis of June 1967 is rooted in the early and mid 1960’s Soviet backed attempts of the Syrian regime to destabilize Israel and Jordan by means of trying to divert rivers leading water to the Sea of Galilee, thus drying up Israel’s water supply, and by orchestrating proxy terror attacks on Israel from Jordanian controlled territory, thus leading to Israeli retaliation against Jordan which destabilized both countries. The Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin developed an obsession to solve this problem by overthrowing the Syrian regime, without consulting with his superiors in the government who opposed such a measure. in mid 1967 he ordered the mobilization of the armored corps near the Syrian border , which led the Soviets to lean on their Egyptian clients to mobilize their troops into the demilitarized Sinai peninsula in order to alleviate the Israeli pressure off the Syrians.
The USS Liberty sneaked in to the fray of the Six-Day war in its 3rd day, when the General Staff was overworked with the conclusive stages of the Egyptian and Jordanian front while also diligently taking the war effort to the Syrian front. The General Staff entered the war with its Chief Major-General Rabin in the psychiatric ward having undergone a mental breakdown due to the stress of the impending war on all fronts, starting with the minimalist borders of 1948 on which several enemy armed divisions parked awaiting the waves of Egyptian fighter-bombers which were grouping in the eastern airports of Egypt, were they thus stood unprotected on the runways refueling and arming, a position which proved prone enough to a decisive aerial attack by the dare-devil Israeli air force. Rabin’s hospitalization reeked havoc in the General stuff, which allowed the dare-devil air force to strike in full swing and win big time. It also allowed the brigade commanders, veterans of the hectic independence war of 1947-1949, increased level of autonomy which they used extensively against a withdrawing enemy.
Analysis of the attack
The international maritime law requires all ships to be properly flagged. This is easily enforced when sailing the enclosure named the Persian-gulf inclusive of its outlet, the Hormuz straits. This is contrary to the incident in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war in which the Naval intelligence ship named ‘USS Liberty’ pushed itself, contrary to repetitive instructions from the USN 5th fleet, into a situation in which it came under attack by an ally distressed by its war situation. Luckily the ship did not sink, since its structure remained intact. It should be noted that ‘Liberty’ came under fire the 3rd day of the six-day war, when Arab air forces which could theoretically be blamed for such an attack no longer existed. Further more, the attacking aircraft did not disguise itself with Egyptian colors or designations. Therefore, the prospects of a False-flag in that case are extremely unlikely. The notion of a joint backroom deal between the white house and the Israeli defense minister Dayan (who was the de-facto decision maker during the war) also makes no sense on the grounds of president Johnson’s mental incompetence which rendered him a mere oligarchical puppet incapable of orchestrating such a scheme on his own, and the trivial fact that the US was stuck up to its neck in the Vietnamese quagmire at this point in time, thus had no resources for a second attempt on yet another Soviet client regime in Egypt.
This rumor seems to come from certain Pentagon officials with a vested interest in lying about the issue in order to distract public attention from a hidden agenda.
Regardless of who the Israelis thought they were attacking, it seems like the main motivation to attack the ship was its attempt to gather electronic intelligence on their operations in Sinai, which triggered the attempt to neutralize this perceived threat. This theory is supported by somewhat similar incidents in other wars, e.g. the bombing of Chinese spies (disguised as "UN workers") during the 2006 Lebanese war, and the USAF attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the 1999 war on Serbia (triggered by the Chinese attempts to aid the Serbian army by deploying electronic surveillance equipment from the embassy’s compound) .
USS Liberty the day after the attack
– Note the large telecommunication dish, making it clearly a military vessel, yet of unbeknownst origins to the pilots trying to fend it off back to the open sea.
Consequences for the present crisis
Given the utter dominance of the US Navy in the Hormuz and throughout the Persian-gulf, there’s no feasibility for an unauthorized western submarine to enter these waters or act in them contrary to USN discretion. This obliterates the argument for Israeli submarines rendering havoc messing up the business for the USA. Definitely no Israeli mine setters would be allowed in the Persian-gulf. Now it’s left for two categories of missiles: (1) long range ballistic missiles, which would be automatically monitored by all the world powers via their satellites and radars, thus inapplicable for clandestine operations; (2) long range cruise missiles which would then be detected and monitored across the open skies over the flat landscapes of the Persian-gulf, over water ways and sand banks alike. Detected long-range missiles are then necessarily attributed to their respective launchers, owners and states of origin.
The other type of no-flag operations is the clandestine type, where it remains publicly unknown who and what caused the observed effect. Such operations remain in many cases orphaned of any entity to come forward and claim the responsibility to itself. Under such circumstances politicians and media enjoy the incidental prerogative of throwing mud on whomever they guess it would best serve their interests to blame. A recent example has been with the US state department blaming Israel for the ostensible repetitive conduct of the Iranian government itself eliminating its members of Intelligentsia who were likely to appear before the IAEA, Scientists and Officers alike.
The best strategy Israel and the GCC countries, headed by Saudi-Arabia, can pursue in order to bring closer the prospect of a NATO onslaught on Iran is to send in the IAEA most brazenly under heavy cover of international media. The Iranian insistent track-record in so far of repealing the IAEA, which is a properly-flagged agency, will do more and better for that sake than any non-flagged or false-flagged operations, simply due to the magnitude of the challenge at hand, the orderly and deeply entrenched establishment of the Iranian state.