Information about the Iraqi Flag: Colors and Meaning of the Flag of Iraq
In this Country Profile
:: Meaning of the Iraqi Flag ::
Iraq’s flag is quite young, with the first design put into use only in 1921. Through ten design changes, the national flag of Iraq has evolved into its present-day design that was adopted only in 2008.
The first flag design was used by the Kingdom of Iraq, and put into use from 1921 to 1959. It was inspired by the flag used during the Arab Revolt and consisted of three horizontal stripes of equal size. The top one is black, the bottom one is green with a white stripe in between. On its hoist side is a trapezoid in red with two white seven-point stars lined up in a vertical row on the narrower side of the trapezoid. The stars represent the Arabs and the Kurds, the principal group of people in the Kingdom of Iraq.
In 1958 the flag underwent minor changes and the red trapezoid became a red triangle extending into the white middle stripe. The two stars were removed. This was to honor the merger of Syria and Egypt with the United Arab Republic and the establishment of the Arab Federation with Jordan and Iraq.
The Iraqi Revolution in July 1958 abolished the Hashemite monarchy of Iraq. The revolution was led by Abdul Karim Qassim. Iraq became a republic and under Law 102 of 1959 adopted a new flag. The flag still used three colors, with the stripes going in a vertical direction. It was used from 1959 up to 1963. The black stripe was near the hoist side; the white stripe was still in the middle; and the green stripe was on the flying side of the flag. In the middle of the white stripe was a red star with eight points. Inside the star was a yellow circle. The colors of the stripes represented Pan-Arabism; the red star of Ishtar denoted the ancient heritage of Iraq; while the yellow sun stood for the minority group in Iraq, the Kurds. This flag is still allowed to be used in the region where Kurds live.
In 1963, Qassim was overthrown by the Baath Party and the new government decided to use a modified version of the flag patterned after the flag design of the Arab Liberation, consisting of three equal horizontal stripes in red (top), white (middle) and black (bottom). In the white stripe are three green five-pointed stars. The three stars represent the hope of Iraq joining Syria and Egypt in a mutual union. This new design of the flag of Iraq was used from 1963 to 1991. In 1996, under Law 33 when Saddam Hussein was already in power, the meaning of the three green stars was changed into unity, socialism and freedom, the three tenets of the motto of the Baath party. In Arabic, the words mean wadah, ishtirakiyah and hurriyah.
Yet another change was done to the Iraq national flag from 1991 to 2004. During this period the flag, under the orders of Saddam Hussein included the Takbir, an Arabic word meaning “God is Great” or Allahu Akbar. The words were added between the stars, using the same color as the stars.
After the Iraq War in 2004 and up to 2008 with the interim government in place, there were several suggestions to amend the design of the Iraqi flag. Since the flag being used contained the Takbir allegedly using the actual handwriting of Saddam Hussein, the Takbir was modified and stylized by using Kufic script. As there were several oppositions, the government decided to conduct a contest for a new design. In early 2008, a new flag design was unveiled, retaining the current tricolor consisting of red, white and black horizontal stripes, with the Takbir in Kufic script in green written in the middle of the white stripe.
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