Flag of Iraq

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Iraq
Flag of Iraq.svg
Use National flag and ensign FIAV sinister.svg
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 22 January 2008
Design A horizontal tricolour of red, white, and black, charged with the takbīr (Allahu akbar, "God is great") in green Kufic script, centered on the white stripe.

The flag of Iraq (Arabic: علم العراق‎) includes the three equal horizontal red, white, and black stripes of the Arab Liberation flag. This basic tricolor has been in use since 1963, with several changes to the green symbols in the central white stripe; the most recent version bears the takbīr rendered in green.

History of the Iraq flag[edit]

1921–1959[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned1921–1959 (ratio: 1:2)
Design used in the past, but now abandoned Royal standard of the Kingdom of Iraq, 1930–1958 (ratio: 1:2)

The first flag of modern Iraq was the Kingdom of Iraq, and was adopted in 1921. It was a black-white-green horizontal flag, with a red trapezoid (some variants have a triangle) extending from the mast side, inspired by the flag of the Arab Revolt. Two seven-point white stars on the triangle denoted the two principal peoples of the kingdom: the Arabs and the Kurds. The design also reflected the newly installed Hashemite Dynasty in Iraq (originally from Hejaz in the Arabian Peninsula), who had played a leading role in the Arab Revolt. As such, it was similar to the flags of Hashemite Jordan, and the short-lived Kingdom of Hejaz. Prior to Iraqi independence in 1932, this flag was also used by the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. Today, it is used by pro-Hashemite monarchists in Iraq.

1958[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned1958 (ratio: 1:2)

In 1958, in response to the merger of Egypt and Syria in the United Arab Republic, the two Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan established the Arab Federation, a confederation of the two states. The flag of the union was essentially that of Jordan but without seven pointed star in the red chevron.[1] This flag is identical to the flag of Palestine adopted in 1964, and almost identical the flag of the Ba'ath Party. The union lasted less than six months, being terminated by the Iraqi Revolution of 1958 in July.

1959–1963[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned1959-1963 (ratio: 1:2)

Following the Revolution of 14 July 1958, led by Abdul Karim Qassim, which abolished the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq and turned the country into a republic, Iraq adopted a new flag (Law 102 of 1959) that consisted of a black-white-green vertical tricolour, with a red eight-pointed star with a yellow circle at its centre. The black, white, green, and red are the pan-Arab colours, representing pan-Arabism, while the yellow sun represented the Kurdish minority. In addition, the red star (of Ishtar) was used to represent Iraq's ancient heritage, as well as its Assyrian minority.

This version of the Iraqi national flag is currently allowed to be flown in the Kurdish minority region of Iraq, while the 1963-2008 versions of the Iraqi flag are not, due to their connotations of pan-Arabism, and their adoption during the period of Ba'ath Party rule.[2][3][not in citation given]

1963–1991[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned 1963–1991 (ratio: 2:3)

After Qassim was overthrown by the Ba'ath Party in 1963, the new Ba'athist government adopted a modified version of the Arab Liberation flag as the new flag of Iraq on 31 July 1963 (Law 28 of 1963). This horizontal tricolour of red, white, and black bands (first used in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952) formed the basis of the flag of the United Arab Republic (UAR). Though the UAR broke up in 1961, hopes for Arab unity persisted. As such, whereas the UAR flag had two green stars in the white band, signifying its two members (Egypt and Syria), the new Iraqi flag had three stars, symbolising the aspiration that Iraq would join with Egypt and Syria in a new union. Sharing this goal, Syria adopted the new Iraqi flag as its own later that same year. This remained the flag of Syria until 1971, when the green stars were replaced by the Hawk of Qureish.

The Iraqi Flag Law No. 28 of 1963 was replaced by Flag Law No. 33 of 1986, during the presidency of Saddam Hussein, in which although the flag remained the same, the meaning of the three stars was changed from their original geographic meaning to representations of the three tenets of the Ba'ath party motto: wahda, hurriyah, ishtirakiyah (unity, freedom and socialism).

1991–2004[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandonedObverse side meant to be hoisted with pole to the observer's right 1991–2004 (ratio: 2:3)

On 13 January 1991, the flag was modified by Flag Law No. 6 of 1991. At the instigation of Saddam Hussein, the takbīr (the phrase Allahu akbar, meaning "God is great" in Arabic) was added in green between the stars. The form of the takbīr was in Hussein's own handwriting. Many[who?] interpreted the addition of the sacred Islamic text as an attempt to garner wartime support from previously outlawed religious Iraqi leaders, to stop the disrespect of the Iraqi flag in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, and to bolster the Iraqi government's Islamic credentials (hitherto strongly secular) in the period immediately preceding the Persian Gulf War.[citation needed]

As with other flags inscribed with Arabic script, the hoist is to the right of the obverse (front) of the flag.

2004–2008[edit]

Design used in the past, but now abandoned 2004–2008 flag of Iraq with stylized Kufic script (ratio: 2:3)

Due to these differing views, and the prevailing opposition to an outright abandonment of the current Iraqi flag, a compromise measure was adopted by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi interim administration in 2004. The basic form of the existing flag was retained;[4] however, the takbīr was rendered in traditional stylized Kufic script, as opposed to the handwriting of Saddam Hussein.
The modified flag was unveiled at the ceremony marking the technical 'handover' of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority occupation forces to the U.S.-appointed administration on 28 June 2004.[5]

2008–present[edit]

FIAV sinister.svg 2008-present flag of Iraq (ratio: 2:3)

On 22 January 2008, a new design for the flag was confirmed by Law 9 of 2008. In this current version, the three stars were removed, while the takbīr was retained in its 2004 form. The parliament intended that the new design last for one year, after which a final decision on the flag would be made. However, the flag law was reviewed in parliament on 30 April 2009.[6]

Flag proposals and flag contest[edit]

2004 flag proposal and controversy[edit]

Design was proposed in the past, but never officially adoptedProposed flag, 2004 (later abandoned)
A comparison of the flags of some of Iraq's neighbours, Iraq's older flags, and the proposed flag.

Following the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States in 2003, the Iraqi government was overthrown, and the Ba'ath Party was outlawed. Strong speculation followed that the U.S. government would press for a change in the Iraqi flag to remove its pan-Arab symbolism, and to make a definitive break with the period of Ba'athist rule. To a degree, this view was shared by some groups in Iraq. In addition to some displeasure among Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam Hussein to retaining national symbols used by his government, there was also strong aversion to the flag from Iraq's Kurdish minority, who resented its evocation of pan-Arabism. However, Iraqi opponents of changing the flag argued that since the flag had been used since 1963, long before Saddam Hussein's presidency, it was unfair to characterise it as a 'Saddamist' flag. They also stressed that pan-Arabism has been a dominant popular principle among Iraqi's majority population for decades prior to Iraqi independence in 1932.

On 26 April 2004 the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) announced a new flag for post-Saddam Iraq. The IGC stated that, from around 30 competing entries, it had chosen a design by the distinguished Iraqi artist-architect Rifat Chadirji, who lives in London, and is a brother of a member of the IGC.

The proposed flag was had several meanings:

Symbol Meaning
White background Purity
Two blue bands The blue bands represent the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.
Yellow band Kurdish minority. The flag of Kurdistan features a yellow sun.
Blue crescent The crescent represents Islam.
The shade of blue represents Iraqi Turkmens.

The design marked a notable break with the three flags of modern Iraqi history (namely the Arab Revolt-inspired flag of the Kingdom, the flag introduced by Abdul Karim Qassim, and the Arab Liberation inspired flag of 1963), all of which were based on the four pan-Arab colours. Indeed, of these colours, only white was represented in the IGC design. Moreover, Islamic crescents are usually depicted in green or red in Arab heraldry. The proposed change provoked an intensely negative reaction across groups of Iraq's Arab majority, including those vehemently opposed to Saddam Hussein. Those opposed to the U.S. occupation, including Shi'a cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, decried the design as an attempt by the U.S. government to strip Iraq of its identity, and its historically prominent role in the Arab world. In particular, critics lamented the proposed abandonment of the Arab Liberation Flag, the omission of the traditional colors of pan-Arabism, and the removal of the takbīr.

Additionally, the new flag's predominantly blue-on-white appearance immediately antagonised many in Iraq because of its alleged resemblance to the flag of the State of Israel, considered hostile to Iraq since the former's establishment in 1948.

The new flag was reported to have been burned by insurgents in Fallujah on 27 April 2004, the day before its planned official adoption.

On 28 April 2004, IGC President Massoud Barzani formally presented a modified version of the flag in which the originally very light shade of blue as reported by the press on 26 April 2004 had been changed to a darker tone. It was unclear whether this was a change made because of the protests made against the original design or, as the Council claimed, a rectification of printing errors in the earlier news reports. Barzani also explained that the flag was a temporary design, to be used over the ensuing months until the adoption of a definitive flag.

In the face of the overwhelming public outcry, adoption of the blue crescent flag was abandoned entirely.

2008 flag proposal[edit]

Design was proposed in the past, but never officially adoptedFirst proposal, 2008

Despite the compromise in 2004, opposition to the flag persisted from Kurdish groups. In January 2008, a new design was proposed, removing the three green stars, instead placing a green eight pointed star around a yellow circle in the middle of the takbīr, which is written in the Kufic script and prized as a Mesopotamian Arabic style, having originated in Iraq.[7]

2008 flag contest[edit]

Design was proposed in the past, but never officially adoptedSecond proposal, 2008

In July 2008, the Iraqi parliament launched a contest to design a new Iraqi flag. The contest ran until September 2008, with 50 designs submitted. Six designs were chosen and sent to the parliament which was going to choose a new flag before the end of 2008.[8]

Another design was also proposed similar to the 2004-2008 flag, but the script was changed to yellow to represent the Kurdish people in northern Iraq. The meaning of the three stars would be changed to symbolize peace, tolerance and justice.[9]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]