Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Few Days ago, the “Iraqi” parliament passed a law to change the Iraqi Flag. The presidency council ratified that law today and it will become valid starting from the day it is published in the Iraqi Gazette.

I will review with you the history of this particular flag and the reasons behind changing it and also behind my own reservation over that particular change.

If you have read previous posts on this blog , you will see that I have mentioned more than once that the Kurds refuse to raise the Iraqi flag over their “region” under the pretext that the Iraqi Army was carrying that flag when they attacked the Kurds.

The new flag, which the parliament approved, simply removed the 3 green stars from the old Iraqi flag and kept the words ( Allah Akbar) which means (God is great).

Now, first of all the only countries which has the word Allah ( or God) on their Flag in the region( if not the entire world as far as I know) are the Islamic theocracies, Iran And Saudi Arabia. Dose that mean that now we are the 3rd Islamic theocracy in the region?

The words ( Allah Akbar) were introduce to the Iraqi flag in 1991 by Saddam Hussein when he went into war with America in the 1991 gulf war, in an attempt to win over the Islamic world. Before that, the Iraqi flag was simply red on the top, then whit and the bottom is Black and 3 green stars in the Middle .

The green stars were originally placed there for the proposed, but never-consummated, union of Iraq with Egypt and Syria (United Arab Republic), which both had flags with two stars in the middle at the time. Theirs would have presumably changed into three had the union with Iraq been accomplished. By 1961, however, the Union between Syria and Egypt had already fallen apart.

Then Saddam changed the meaning of the 3 stars to signify the three goals of the Ba’ath Party (Unity, freedom and socialism), that was when he introduced the words ( God is Great) into the Iraqi Flag in 1991, with his own hand writing.

So as you see, the Kurds are not upset because this flag was raised by the Iraqi Army when they were massacred, for thousands of Iraqis also died in order that this flag is not to be brought down, but because of its pan – Arab back ground.

The Kurds changed it because they were facing a dilemma. They will be hosting the Arab parliamentarians meeting in Arbil soon. Since the Kurds refuse to raise the Iraqi flag, and since the Arab Parliamentarians will not approve that they would not see an Iraqi flag raised in the Kurdish region of Iraq, the Kurds pressured into changing the Iraqi flag, and having a temporary Ffag for one year( just to get them through this ordeal) and this is what actually happened.

Once I heard of the new flag, which came suddenly and we were surprised to see, the first thing that came to my mind “ how could they do that?!”. If you wanted to change the flag and get rid of Saddam’s trace on the flag, then remove the words of (God is Great) from the flag and change the meanings of the 3 stars. But to remove the stars, which are the old Characteristics of the Flag, and keeping the Saddam addition of ( God is great) is really uncalled for.

My own conservation over the old Flag (with the words God is Great) is that it is significantly Islamic. No Iraqi Christian or other religious minority could relate to this flag, which is supposed to represent every Iraqi.

This is not the first attempt to change the Iraqi flag after the US led invasion of Iraq. The Governing council, which was set up by the Coalition Provincial Authority (CPA), came out with a

proposed flag in 2004 but it was immediately rejected. The Iraqi people thought that it was too similar to the Israeli flag.

Couple of Days ago, the Kurdish MP Mahmoud Uthman, said on Al-Arabyia TV that the Iraqi people, represented by the parliament members, whom they have elected, are the one who chose this one year flag. He denied what was mentioned on the web sites that the Iraqi people are not welcoming the new flag and that there has been voices coming out rejecting and not recognizing that new flag and that they are holding to the old one.

As a sign of protest and defiance, I fitted today the old Iraqi Flag (with the 3 stars and God is Great) on my car to express my rejection to the new flag and also to see what the reaction of the people would be. The first reaction was from a guy who guards a check point who gave me a thumb up. Another guy asked if it is the new flag and then he checked it and unintentionally exclaimed “oh no it is our flag”.

I got to the house after driving around Baghdad with the flag on my car. I was not alone in doing so, for many of the police cars had the old flag on it as well (one of the police cars had even 3 of them). Once I got to the house my mother saw the flag and she said that I should take it off “because it is an act against the government” My mother said. “Well the Kurds did not raise the official flag of the state and raised another one instead and they are part of the Government” I replied. Then she said “people would think that you are a Saddamist”. “This is the Flag of Iraq and not Saddam’s Flag” my reply was.

I believe if we do not do something about it, then they will change even the name of Iraq, especially now we are hearing form Fouad Ma’asom, another Kurdish member of parliament that there was not something called Iraq up until recently.


This is an update of the reactions I’m receiving on the second day of raising the Iraqi Flag.

well, there are More thumbs up today.

First of all I drove through the hot A’adhayia main street in Baghdad today, and the majority of cars, bikes, Motor cycles and trucks were doing exactly the same thing I’m doing, which is raising the old Iraqi flag. you would see it every were,on the buildings or even at the checkpoints maned by the US military backed Awakening ( or concerned citizens) and their tents.

In order to prove that the rejection of the new flag is not a strictly sonni position, a shiat guard ( I know he is shiat because he guards one of the main offices of the Shiat endowments) stopped me at a check point. Usually, since the check point is at a side street, they would ask me where I’m going. Today he immediately said “since you are raising this flag, go ahead, with God’s blessing”. Another shiat neighbor asked me when she saw the flag “ what! Are you a Sadrist Now”? Meaning that I have joined the group of the radical shiat clergyman Moqttada Al-Sadr. “No this is the Flag of Iraq not Moqttada Al-Sadr’s flag” my answer was.

The reason why my neighbor thought that I joined the Sadr movement is that, last March 15th , Moqttada Al-Sadr ordered his followers to raise the Iraqi flag every where in Iraq, as an act of defiance and rejection to the American occupation in the 4th anniversary of the war on Iraq. The streets of Baghdad became so glamorous when they were filled with the Iraqi flags. Yet, this dose not make the Flag exclusively Sadrist, Ba’athists, shiat, sonnies, Arabs or Kurds. It is still the Iraqi flag.

Day 8

I need not to say that I’m receiving more thumbs-up throughout my travels in the streets of Baghdad. Last Saturday, a Man, in his lat 30s, got his body out of the window of a car up to his waist and he was cheering for me when he saw the flag on my car. Couple of Days ago they raised the New Iraqi flag in front of the convention center, which houses the parliament right now, and it was done quietly. Well since the parliament is the one who passed the law so they should follow it , this is natural and a sensible thing to do, regardless of what I think of that step in the first place.

Today, the Prime minister raised the new flag over his office and gave an order that the new flag should be raised over all the Iraqi Ministries and public offices. No problem with that so far. The problem is when the Prime Minister and the official spokesperson of the Government, Dr.Ali Al-Dabagh, open their mouths to utter the most irritating things.

First the PM said that everybody should raise this new Flag and that “No other Flag should be raised”. He claimed that it is the “democratic” thing to do and this is a matter of respect for the state. Ok, I have one Question, where was Mr. tough, decisive, firm, strong and steady fast Maliki, when the Iraqi flag has no trace to be found in the three Northern Iraqi provinces. Not even when he would visit the region, they would not raise the Iraqi flag in his presence. Why was not he so firm and defended the statues of the Iraqi state??!!

Then he uttered the most stupid thing. “Those 3 stars, which represent the Unity, Freedom and Socialism, those miserable goals”Maliki Said. It is true that they were the declared goals of the Ba’ath Party, yet they as goals by themselves are far from Miserable. I do not think that we do not need Unity at the time being, Unless Mr. Maliki prefers that people remain in Iraq at each other’s throat. As for Freedom, we know where those religious parties stand from such a goal. As for socialism, well you may have the right to agree or disagree with it, depending on your political and Ideological view ….in case you have any.

Then the government spokesperson opened his mouth. “Well if they want to link themselves to the old regime, they may do so” Ali Al-Dabagh Said. So if you defend the symbol of your country, the dearest thing to any patriot, for which many people died defending, then you are from the old regime. Next we will hear that Saddam was the leader of Iraq, and then there should be no Iraq. And since Saddam used to Role the Iraqi people then there should be no Iraqi people and no one should say I’m an Iraqi, because that would mean that you are pro- Saddam. You should say that you are a shait, Sonni, Kurd, Arab, Yazidi, Muslim , Christian, Turkmen or Shebek, but not Iraqi. Unity is a “miserable goal” as you know.

Feb - 24th

Today I was walking down the Mutanabi street, the Famous open air market for books and Stationeries in Baghdad. As you go through the market and Pass by the shops, you will find a large number of Iraqi flags ( the old one) openly displayed for sell. They are in different sizes . one shop had the old Iraqi flag on the right side and the new one on the left .

Since the area is one of the areas which is jointly protected by the Iraqi Army and the Awakening ( Sahwa) forces, or what the American Military calls " the concerned citizens", you can see a large number of the old Iraqi flags hanging every where, since the Awakening forces clearly said that they do not recognize the new Flag and that they are holding to the Old one " this is the State's flag while this one is ours" Said Ali Hatem Al-Salamn the sheikh of the Big Dulaimi tribe, and the senior Figure at the Iraqi Salvation council which established the awakening forces, in a recent TV interview.

It was not a surprise to me to see the golden statue of the old nationalistic Iraqi poet, Ma'arouf Al-Russafi, holding the old Iraqi Flag on his right arm, while his Back is riddled with Bullet holes from recent clashes in the area. And you almost can hear him recite couple of verses from one of his poems, which he wrote during the English occupation of Iraq

" علم ودستور ومجلس امة = كل عن المعنى الصحيح محرف
اسماء ليس لنا سوى الفاظها =اما معانيها فليست تعرف

"A flag, a Constitution and a Parliament, each has its meaning twisted.

Merely uttered words, while its meanings are unknown".