Photograph by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty.
Egyptian flag flying over Alexandria, 1948
Wendell Steavenson on Tahrir Square’s military coup: http://nyr.kr/16P8fB1
"Waving flags and tooting whistles, trumpeting vuvuzelas, drumming and shouting and chanting and honking and singing—Tahrir reached such a noisy level of jubilation that people were joking, “Did Egypt win the World Cup?” Walking among them, dodging fireworks, it felt upside down: a popular protest to oust President Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was democratically elected, in which, since Monday, the military has taken the side of the protesters."
The United Arab Republic was a short-lived union between Egypt and Syria established on 22 February 1958. Its flag was based on Egypt’s Arab Liberation flag with two green stars added for the two member states. Syria went back to its old independence flag after the Union broke up in 1961, but Egypt kept the UAR flag (and name) alive for another decade.
Ironically it was Syria that brought this flag back from the dead. In 1963 a pair of coups brought the Ba’ath party to power in Syria and Iraq. Both states adopted a version of the UAR flag with three stars, representing their hopes for an eventual union of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. The union never came to pass, thanks in part to a 1966 coup in Syria which caused a split in the party. But on 1 January 1972 a different union emerged. This was the Federation of Arab Republics, a largely symbolic pact between Libya, Egypt, and Syria. The three country’s flags (Egypt’s with two stars, Syria’s with three, and Libya’s with none) were dropped in favour of a new flag with the Hawk of Quraish.
This nominal union lasted until 1977, when Anwar Sadat pissed off Muammar Gaddafi by making a diplomatic visit to Israel. Gaddafi ordered the Federation’s flag burned and hastily adopted a plain green flag as an “interim” flag for Libya (it lasted for 34 years). Syria and Egypt kept the FAR flag for a few more years, mainly out of inertia. Syria reverted back to the original UAR flag in 1980, and Egypt replaced the Federation’s Hawk with the homegrown Eagle of Saladin in 1984.
As for Iraq, it kept the three star flag throughout the whole ideal, adding the Takbir to the centre stripe during the first Gulf War. Finally, in 2008, the stars deemed too tainted by Ba’athism and removed. That leaves Syria’s flag as the only one of its type left in the Arab world. And if the opposition has its way it won’t be around for much longer.
In 1971, Egypt, Syria, and Libya agreed to establish the Federation of Arab Republics. The three countries never achieved their goal of merging into a single state, but they did adopt nearly identical flags. All three flags were red-white-black tricolours with the Hawk of Quraish in the centre. The flag of Egypt inlcuded the phrase “Arab Republic of Egypt” beneath the emblem, while the flag of Libya had the phrase “Libyan Arab Republic”. Syria’s flag just featured the emblem without any additional text.
Got a nice photo from Owen K the other day of this fine piece of a.r.t: Mappa by Alighiero Boetti.
Owen is a photographer, so you can admire his great framing, with that equally colorful Matisse reflected in the North Atlantic Ocean, and the bright light coinciding directly with Canada’s…
Another really obvious change on there is Namibia. It wasn’t independent yet so it’s just blank on the map.
You can also just make out all the countries in the Federation of Arab Republics using basically the same flag.
Two more color plates of flags and banners from Amie’s Universal Encyclopedia, 1882.
The flag of the Kingdom of Egypt was a green flag with a white crescent and three white stars (representing Muslims, Christians, and Jews). The flag remained in official use even after the 1952 Revolution, and was only lowered when Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic in 1958.