The Associated Press today announced that Iraq’s parliament voted to change the national flag of Iraq. The current national flag (on the top far left) consists of three horizontal stripes of red, white, and black with three green stars in the white stripe with the Takbir, the words ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘God is Great’, in green stylized Arabic calligraphy in between the stars.
Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq objected to the continued use of the current national flag within their region. Its association with the persecution of Kurds under the former Saddam regime made the change important if Kurdistan were to remain a viable partner in the new Iraq. “The Kurds have been persecuted and killed under that banner. It must be changed.”, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker.
Any final design must not include the three green stars and the calligraphy of the Arabic phrase must be different, the new law specifies. It is said, but never confirmed, that the calligraphy was in Saddam Hussein’s own handwriting. The Kurds would like to add a yellow feature to the new flag since their regional flag prominently includes a yellow sun. Two competing proposals feature a Takbir in yellow Kufic script between the three green stars or an eight-pointed green star around a yellow circle to represent the Kurds between a stylized Takbir with each design featured on the white stripe.
The law specifies that a new national flag must be passed by the parliament in one year.
The Associated Press reported that the green stars on the Iraqi flag represented the three stated objectives of the Baath Party: unity, freedom and socialism. It’s true that these objectives may have been adopted by the Baath Party to represent these ideals, but the stars were added in 1963 as a possible third member for a proposed United Arab Republic that included Egypt and Syria. That union never materialized, but the flag design with the three green stars remained until the addition of the Takbir script was added by Saddam in 1991.
There was in fact a new flag design for Iraq in 2004 to represent a post-Saddam era. It featured a white background with a light blue crescent in the center and three horizontal stripes of blue, yellow and blue near the bottom of the flag. It was adopted by Iraq’s Governing Council, but not formally adopted by the Iraqi Parliament. It is not used as the official flag of Iraq.
Flag images from Wikipedia.