The current Iraqi flag has three equal horizontal stripes in red, white, and black, which replicate the lines of the Arab Liberation Flag, a famous nationalist symbol in the area. The flag also contains Arabic calligraphy written in the center in green, which reads 'Allah u Akbar”, meaning “God is (the) greatest”. This phrase is also known as the Takbeer and is a ubiquitous phrase in Islamic and Arabic societies. The original incarnation of this flag was introduced on 31 July 1963 but the current version, which removed the original three-stars, was implemented for use in 2008.

The pan-Arab colours, red, white, black, and green, have been in use since 1916 during the Arab revolt during World War I against the Ottoman Empire. These colours have formed an essential symbolic relationship to Arab nationalism in Iraq as well as other countries in the region such as Egypt and Syria. Many Arab nationalist flags gave the green less prominence in their flags since the 1950s. These four colours have somewhat of a lore within Iraqi culture with 14th-century Iraqi poet Safi Al-Din Al-Hilli writing, "white is our acts, black our battles, green our fields, and red our swords". The Takbeer, the Arabic calligraphy in the center of the flag, signifies the importance of the Islamic faith as well as replacing the stars that previously adorned the flag which represented Saddam Hussein's Baath Party according to many Iraqi citizens.

The original pan-Arab flag was surprisingly designed by a British diplomat, Sir Mark Sykes, to give the revolt an Arab-inspired symbol that the insurgents could rally around. Fast forward to 1963 and the colours were used by Egypt, Iraq, and Syria in a failed attempt at creating a new Arab union. The newly formed flag, with three stars representing each of the three countries involved, was proposed to symbolise all the nations but since the coalition fell through it was never used in this way. Iraq decided to adopt the flag on 31 July 1963 as its own, and the design was the result of an amalgamation of Pan-Arab nationalist ideas from Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. As mentioned earlier, the modern version was implemented in 2008, and the stars were replaced with the Takbeer which symbolises unity and faith.

Previous versions of the Iraqi national flag include the flag of the Kingdom of Iraq which consists of a black-white-green horizontal flag and a trapezoid, or triangle, that extends from the mast side of the flag which also has two seven-sided stars inside. This flag was in use from 1921 until 1930 and then was replaced by a similar flag known as the Royal Standard of the Kingdom of Iraq version which flew as the national flag until 1959. As mentioned earlier, the 1963 flag has remained the national flag in one form or another with small variations implemented over time.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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