User:Bobfrombrockley/Syrian independence flag

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French Mandate and independence (1932–58, 1961–63)[edit]

Flag of the Syrian Republic under the French Mandate, as described in the Constitution of the Syrian Republic

The flag of the newly established Syrian Republic, under the French mandate was determined by the 1930 constitution. The constitution was drafted by a parliamentary committee led by nationalist leader Ibrahim Hananu.[1] At first, French authorities refused to allow the constituent assembly to ratify the constitution, and Henri Ponsot, the High Commissioner of the Levant, dissolved the assembly on 5 February 1929. After a public uproar, French authorities rescinded their decision and decided to approve the draft with some changes.[2] On 14 May 1930, Ponsot issued decree number 3111, which approved the Syrian-drafted "Constitution of the Syrian Republic", and which in Article IV of Part I states:

"[The] Syrian flag will be as follows: length double width, and is divided into three parallel and equal colors, the highest green, white then black, that the white section contains in a straight line three red five-pointed stars".

— Article IV, Part I, Constitution of the Syrian Republic[3]

The flag's green colour stood for the Rashidun, white represented the Umayyads and black symbolised the Abbasids. Originally, the three red stars represented the three districts of Syria: the "states" of Aleppo, Damascus, and Deir ez-Zor.[4] In 1936, the Sanjak of Latakia and Jebel Druze were added to Syria, and the representation of the three stars was changed, with the first representing the districts of Aleppo, Damascus and Deir ez-Zor, the second Jebel Druze, and the final star representing Sanjak of Latakia.[5] The flag was officially hoisted in Damascus on 11 June 1932, but was previously flown in Aleppo on 1 January 1932.[5] The flag was used as a symbol for the desire for autonomy, for Syrians to rally around when France reneged on its agreement to leave the country, due to the outbreak of World War II.[6][4] The symbolism was as follows: black for the dark oppressed past, white for a promising future and red for the blood to be sacrificed to move from the former to the latter.[4] The flag was adopted when Syria gained its independence on 17 April 1946, and used until the creation of the United Arab Republic, a state union of Syria and Egypt, in 1958. After the collapse of the United Arab Republic, Syria continued to use the UAR's flag until 28 September 1961, when it was the independence flag was restored to disassociate Syria from the former failed union.[7]

Opposition flag[edit]

Syrian National Coalition
Syrian Interim Government
Flag of Syria 2011, observed.svg
Name"Independence flag"[8]
UseNational flag and ensign
Proportion2:3 (disputed)
AdoptedOriginally in 1932 with 1:2 aspect ratio, was readopted in 1961. Adopted with 2:3 aspect ratio in 2012 by opposition government-in-exile[9] (sometimes the original 1:2 aspect ratio flag is used unofficially)
DesignA horizontal tricolor triband of green, white, and black, with three red stars charged in the center.

During the ongoing civil war, the Syrian opposition, represented by the Syrian National Council, then by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces[10] (commonly named the Syrian National Coalition) used a modified version of the independence flag first used in 1932 with a 2:3 aspect ratio. The modified independence flag began to be used as a universal display of the protesting opposition in late 2011.[10][11] The opposition wanted to distinguish themselves from the current Syrian government and favoured the use of the flag used when Syria gained its independence from France. The use of the modified independence flag is similar to the Libyan rebels' use of the pre-Gaddafi Libyan flag from the era of the Kingdom of Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi's green flag.[12][13] A January 2012 Financial Times report quoted a protester from the city of Homs as saying “They used the [red, white and black] Syrian flag on the tanks that killed us,” Mohammad explained. “We don’t feel any attachment to a flag used on tanks that came to occupy our cities. It does not represent us anymore.” It also quoted Syrian National Council spokesman, Khaled Kamal: “The flag that Bashar’s regime and the army are using now must be different from the ones used by the revolutionaries,” Kamal said. “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”[12]

The original 1:2 aspect ratio flag has been used by the opposition unofficially on several occasions. It was first used spontaneously by civilian rebels, for instance citizens who defied government curfews in early 2012, who put up a large opposition flag in the centre of Damascus.[14] A UK academic who observed the uprising wrote in 2012 that "the Syrian map on the revolutionary flag’s colours was the main symbol for many anti-Assad groups."[15]

Today the flag is mainly used in areas controlled by rebel forces, starting with Idlib in late February 2012.[16]. The Syrian independence flag has been used by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) since November 2011.[12] By the end of January and the beginning of February 2012, videos surfaced showing BMP-2 armoured personnel carriers in Homs carrying the independence flag firing at government forces, supported by FSA soldiers.[17] As well as the FSA, from around 2012 many non-FSA rebel groups fought under this flag, such as the Idlib-based moderate Islamist Umma Brigade, most of the units of the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front and the Front for Authenticity and Development.[18] The Syrian Islamic Council issued a fatwa in May 2012 authorising the use of the free Syrian flag.[18] According to CNRS analyst Thomas Pierret, the use of the flag is an indicator of opposition to the more radicalised jihadi factions; he gives the example of Suqur al-Sham dropping the flag from their logo in February 2013 as they became radicalised;[18] David S. Sorenson similarly suggests the Jaish al-Islam use of the independence flag, forbidden by other Islamist groups, is an indicator of a more "moderate" stance[19] and Charles Lister describes the adoption of the revolutionary flag[20] as a symbol of Ahrar al-Sham's "nationalist" rebrand in 2017.[21]

The independence flag has been used by (mainly Arab) rebel fighters who have joined the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, for example, the Northern Democratic Brigade, Army of Revolutionaries, Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa and Euphrates Volcano, as well as by the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army they have been in combat against.[22]

As well as the use by rebel forces, the independence flag continued to be used by civil society, especially in rebel-held areas (for instance in opposition media channels). In early 2013, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria launched the “Flag of the Revolution Represents Me” campaign to promote the flag and the values it represents.[23] In 2014, women in Kafrenbel wove the biggest ever revolution flag.[24] In March 2015, to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the revolution, the Aleppo Revolutionaries Assembly launched the "Raise Your Revolution's Flag" campaign, distributing thousands of flags across Aleppo, with the campaign spreading to other areas, e.g. Hama, as well as throughout the diaspora.[25][26]

The independence flag is also used in government- or ISIL-held areas as a symbol of resistance.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). [27][28] IS has condemned the flag as what it describes as jahliyya (pre-Islamic) idolatrous symbolism.[29]

It has also been used by civilians as a symbol of opposition to al-Nusra/Tahrir al-Sham and its Syrian Salvation Government, for instance in Idlib Governorate in early 2018.[30][31]

The revolutionary flag is widely used in the diaspora too.[32][33] It is used Syrian refugee camps, for instance in schools and textbooks there.[34] It is used by Syrian refugee NGOs, for instance in Turkey.[35]


  1. ^ Thompson, Elizabeth (2000). Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231106610.p.52
  2. ^ Schumann, Cristoph (2008). Liberal Thought in the Eastern Mediterranean: Late 19th Century Until the 1960s. BRILL. ISBN 9789004165489. p.204
  3. ^ The 1930 Constitution is integrally reproduced in: Giannini, A. (1931). "Le costituzioni degli stati del vicino oriente" (in French). Istituto per l’Oriente. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Sergie, Lina, Recollecting history : songs, flags and a Syrian square Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture, 2003, p.25
  5. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference fotw was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Lawson 2006, p. 46.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference Flag was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Syria halts Homs siege as Arab monitors arrive". CBS News. 27 December 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  11. ^ Strutt, Aaron (16 February 2012). "Symbols of the Syrian opposition". BBC News. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Daraghi, Borzou (30 December 2011). "Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past". Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  13. ^ Gani, Jasmine (2015). "Contentious Politics and the Syrian Crisis: Internationalization and Militarization of the Conflict". Contentious Politics in the Middle East. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US. pp. 127–153. doi:10.1057/9781137530868_6. ISBN 978-1-137-53720-1.
  14. ^ AJE live blog. Al Jazeera (2012-01-31). Retrieved on 2012-03-23.
  15. ^ Ola Rifai The shifting balance of identity politics after the Syrian uprising OpenDemocracy 28 April 2014
  16. ^ "Opposition Stronghold Prepares For Assault". Sky News. Retrieved on 23 March 2012.
  17. ^ Goodman, J. David (1 February 2012). "Video of Heavy Street Fighting in Syria". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  18. ^ a b c Thomas Pierret. Salafis at War in Syria. Logics of Fragmentation and Realignment. Salafism After the Arab Awakening: Contending with People’s Power, 2017. <hal-01753795>
  19. ^ David S. Sorenson Syria in Ruins: The Dynamics of the Syrian Civil War: The Dynamics of the Syrian Civil War ABC-CLIO, 19 Sep 2016, p.50
  20. ^ The New Arab (9 July 2017). "Syrian revolutionary flag flying over Ahrar al-Sham controlled border crossing for first time in years". alaraby. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  21. ^ Charles Lister "How al-Qa`ida Lost Control of its Syrian Affiliate: The Inside Story" CTC Sentinel Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, February 2018 • Volume 11, Issue 2, p.6
  22. ^ "Whose Free Syrian Army? The Arab opposition resisting Turkey's Afrin assault". Green Left Weekly. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  23. ^ The Revolution Flag Represents Me SyriaUntold 12 February 2014
  24. ^ Syrian Women Weave the Biggest Revolutionary Flag in Protest Against All Terror, SyriaUntold 02 October 2014
  25. ^ Raise Your Revolution's Flag, Syria Untold, 27 March 2015
  26. ^ Raise Your Revolution's Flag: Aleppo, SyriaUntold March 2015
  27. ^ Revolutionary flag stickers in Rukn al-Din, Damascus, SyriaUntold July 2013
  28. ^ Mara Revkin, Yale University "The Non-Economic Logic of Rebel Taxation: Evidence from an Islamic State-Controlled District" Local Politics and Islamist Movements September 2017 p.66
  29. ^ Jacob Zenn "Al-Qaeda-Aligned Central Asian Militants in Syria Separate from Islamic State-Aligned IMU in Afghanistan" TerrorismMonitor Volume XIII u Issue 11 u May 29, 2015, p.8
  30. ^ "Upheaval in Syria's northwestern rebel heartland as fledgling faction moves to dethrone HTS". Syria Direct. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  31. ^ Emile Hokayem Syria’s Uprising and the Fracturing of the Levant Routledge, 3 Oct 2017
  32. ^ Syrian revolution flag in the "Buds Of Freedom" festival, SyriaUntold October 2013
  33. ^ Dana M. Moss "Transnational Repression, Diaspora Mobilization, and the Case of The Arab Spring, Social Problems, Volume 63, Issue 4, 1 November 2016, Pages 480–498,
  34. ^ Ola Rifai Education and flags: seminal for winning the hearts and minds of Syria’s new generation? OpenDemocracy 29 May 2014
  35. ^ Jenna Krajeski Taking Refuge: The Syrian Revolution in Turkey, World Policy Journal (2012) 29 (2): 59-67. p.62

Further reading[edit]