Flag of Iraq

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Image:Flag-of-Iraq.png
Current flag of Iraq with stylized Kufic script.Image:FIAV 011111.svg

The flag of Iraq has had four different designs since the establishment of Iraq in 1921. While the current situation is not entirely clear, the version in use at present is a minor variation of the design adopted under the Saddam Hussein government winky 1991.

A new flag was proposed in April 2004 but was never adopted. At the ceremony on 28 June 2004 when the new interim government of Iraq was sworn into office, the stage was backed with a row of flags similar to the 1991 pattern, but wider, with the stars and the Arabic script more loosely spread across the width of the flag. The Arabic text (reading "Allahu Akbar") was also more stylized, in the Arabic Kufic script, unlike the previous text which had been loose handwriting, supposedly that of Saddam Hussein himself. The 1991 flag was raised at the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C. on 30 June 2004.[1]

Note that, as with other flags containing Arabic script, the flag is displayed with the hoist side on the right, not the left.

Contents

[edit] History of the Iraqi flag

[edit] 1921–1959

Image:Flag of Iraq 1924.svg
1921-1959 (ratio: 1:2)

The original flag of Iraq was adopted in 1921, when the country was formed. It was a black-white-green horizontal tricolour, with a red trapezoid (some variants have a triangle) extending from the mast side. Two seven-point white stars on the triangle denoted the then 14 provinces of the kingdom. The colours chosen for the new flag were those of the Hashemite leaders of the Arab Revolt who provided the country with its first king, and thus it is very similar to the Flag of Jordan, another Hashemite Kingdom (this flag is also used by the monarchists in Iraq). <div style="clear:both" />

[edit] 1959–1963

Image:Flag of Iraq 1959-1963.svg
1959-1963 (ratio: 1:2)

Following Abdul Karim Qassim's 1958 revolution that deposed the monarchy, on July 14, 1959 Iraq adopted (Law 102 of 1959) a new flag that consisted black-white-green vertical tricolour with, in the middle of the white band, a red eight-pointed star with a yellow circle in its center. The black and green color represented pan-arabism, the yellow sun representing the Kurdish minority, while the red star represented the Assyrian minority.

This version of the Iraqi national flag is currently allowed to be flown in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, while the later versions of the Iraqi flag (with their Ba`thist and Pan-Arab associations) are not.[2], [3] <div style="clear:both"/>

[edit] 1963–1991

Image:Flag of Iraq (1963-1991).svg
1963-1991 (ratio: 2:3)

After the Qassim government was overthrown, a new flag was adopted July 31, 1963 (Law 28 of 1963). The new flag had three stripes, of red, white, and black, with three green stars in the white stripe. The green stars were originally placed there for the proposed union with Egypt and Syria (United Arab Republic), which both had flags with two stars in the middle at the time. They would have changed to three if the Union had not fallen apart. <div style="clear:both"/>

[edit] 1991–Present

On 13 January, 1991, the flag was changed again. 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, Socialism). Saddam Hussein decreed to place the words, Allahu Akbar (God is Great) between the stars. It is said (though unconfirmed) that the words on the flag are in Saddam's own handwriting, and many interpreted the change as an attempt to garner support from the Islamic world in the period immediately preceding the first Gulf War.

Although the flag has not "officially" been changed, this design has been largely replaced by the version with modified script (see top). It is presumed that the modified version of the 1991 design will become the official flag of Iraq upon the creation of a new Iraqi Constitution. <div style="clear:both"/>

[edit] 2004 flag controversy

Image:Proposed flag of Iraq.svg
Proposed flag, 2004 (later abandoned)

On 26 April 2004 the Iraq Interim Governing Council announced a new flag for post-Saddam Iraq. The occupied government stated that from around 30 competing entries, it had chosen a design by the distinguished Iraqi artist-cum-architect Rifat al-Chaderchi (aka Rifat Chadirji) .

The flag was white, with parallel blue-yellow-blue bands across the bottom quarter or third; the blue bands represented the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, and the yellow represented Iraq's Kurdish minority (the reason for this symbolism was unclear, but the flag of Kurdistan does feature a yellow sun). In the middle of the white field was a large Islamic crescent which was, unusually, depicted in a shade of blue.

Image:Flags of the Middle East2.png
To better understand the controversy, compare the flags of Iraq's neighbors, Iraq's older flags, and the proposed flag.

The design marked a notable break with the colours used in other Arab flags, which have lengthy histories – green and black are used to represent Islam and red is used to represent Arab nationalism. Islamic crescents are usually depicted in green or red in Arab heraldry. (Not confusing the flag colours of Iraq's non-Arab neighbour Iran which represent cultivation (green), peace (white) and defending Iran's territory (red)). The new flag's predominantly blue-on-white appearance immediately led to controversy in Iraq because of its resemblance to the flag of Israel, with whom Iraq has had considerable antagonism (a number of the original proposals for the Israeli flag included yellow). Other critics lamented the omission of the traditional colours of Pan-Arabism and the omission of the phrase Allahu Akbar, irrespective of who put it there.

Questions were also asked about Chadirji. He is the younger brother of Interim Governing Council member Naseer al-Chaderchi and, as a result, his victory in the design competition was tainted by accusations of nepotism; in his defense, Chadirji stated that he knew nothing about the plans for a new flag before receiving a telephone call from his brother inviting him to design one, and that the fact that a competition was involved was not mentioned. Additionally, because Chadirji had been living in London since the early 1980s, it was easier for his critics to accuse him of failing to capture current national sentiment in Iraq.

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 Governing Council 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. He 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 controversy, adoption of the blue crescent flag appears to have been abandoned. At the handover ceremony on June 28, 2004 a slightly modified version of the 1991 flag was used, retaining the Allahu akbar but with a stylized script replacing the handwriting. An image from the handover ceremony can be found in this CNN report.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


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