United Arab Republic, 1958-1971; Syria, since 1980
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.