New Iraqi flag

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The new Iraqi flag has been revealed and has already caused a "flag flap".

On April 27, 2004, CNN carried the Associated Press headline "Flap over new Iraq flag." It seems that "Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders have approved a new flag for the country, dumping Saddam Hussein's red-and-black standard." [1]

In its place, the new flag design is "white with two blue stripes, and although it has a crescent representing Islam, the flag no longer bears the words 'God is great.'"

Herein begins the "flap": "The new design not only abandons the symbols of Saddam's regime. It also avoids the colors used in other Arab flags: green and black for Islam and red for Arab nationalism. The change recalls the U.S. agenda of creating a 'New Iraq' that is exceptional in the Arab world."

Flag Design

"In Arabic nations, the colors of flags have widely recognized meanings.

"Green, white and black denote Islam -- harkening back to the battle banners of the medieval Islamic dynasties of the Fatimids, Ummayads and Abbasids. Green is said to have been the prophet Muhammad's favorite color; the Saudi, Libyan, Algerian and Mauritanean flags are completely or largely green.
"Islamic crescents in Arab heraldry are usually green or red.
"Red, meanwhile, points to Arab nationalism. It was the color of the Sharif Hussein, who led the Arab revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule in the early 1900s, and he added it to a flag of green, white and black stripes to create a symbol of pan-Arabism.
"Hussein's banner was the basis for the Jordanian, Palestinian and Syrian flags -- as well as the old Iraqi one.
"The only Arab League members to have any blue in their flag are the African nations of Djibouti and Somalia."

"The old Iraq flag had red and black bands across the top and bottom, and a white band in between with three green stars. During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, Saddam added the words 'Allahu akbar' to boost the religious credentials of his secular regime."

The new flag was "designed by an Iraqi artist and approved by" the Iraqi Governing Council. It has "two parallel blue stripes along the bottom with a yellow stripe in between [with the blue stripes representing] the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and -- because the river basin is Iraq's Arab heartland -- therefore symbolize the country's Sunni and Shiite Arabs. The yellow stripe represents Iraq's ethnic Kurd minority, taking its color from the yellow star on the flag of Kurdistan. ... Above the stripes, in a white field, is a blue crescent of Islam."

The "Flap"

  • "The only country in the Middle East with blue stripes in its flag is Israel, which has a Star of David on a field of white between horizontal blue bands."
  • "But the overhaul of a national symbol raised some complaints -- particularly since it came from U.S.-appointed leaders. U.S. administrators previously tried to alter the Saddam-era flag by dropping the words Allahu akbar -- 'God is great' -- but Iraqis refused to abide by the change."
  • "One council member said the Iraqi leadership should wait for an elected government before altering the Saddam regime standard, which still decorates the uniforms of Iraqi security forces and flies above government buildings."

Commentary

  • Anthony Hecht, "Flag Flap," Slapnose, April 27, 2004: "First, doesn't the interim government of Iraq have better things to do than hold contests for new flag designs? ... Second, isn't it a bit silly to celebrate the self-rule of the Iraqis by having an occupying country-appointed governing council impose a new flag on them that they had nothing to do with creating? ... One of the biggest complaints among Iraqis is that this flag not only does not bear any resemblance to the flags of their fellow Arab states, it bears quite a resemblance to the flag of another country in the region. I can't quite place it. Hmmmm.. ... Oh, yeah! It's Israel -- the country that kind of wants to kill them and is widely believed by them to be complicit with the United States in imposing foreign ideals and religions on them and basically wanting to control every aspect of their lives through military might and economic superiority."

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