Vexillological Vexations
April 26, 2004 9:54 PM   Subscribe

The Iraqi Governing Council has unveiled Iraq's new flag design to almost universal disapproval. Not only is the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council increasingly unpopular, but to some Iraqis the flag looks uncomfortably similar to Israel's. And, as Chris Allbritton points out, "damn, that's an ugly flag."
posted by Vidiot (35 comments total)
Another interesting graf from Chris Allbritton's post:
But aside from the aesthetic problem, there's that big yellow stripe representing the Kurds. (Is it supposed to mean the Kurds live between the Tigris and Euphrates? I don't know.) The Turcomans and Assyrians, already feeling squeezed by the newfound popularity of the Kurds with the new kids in town, are surely rightly pissed off about being left off the new flag. Where is their heritage celebrated?
posted by Vidiot at 9:59 PM on April 26, 2004

Yeah, you can't get any further from Islamic holy green, and the blood red that typically symbolizes blood shed in defense of the homeland. White, yellow, and turquoise. Mmm. No misdirection going on there.
posted by scarabic at 10:08 PM on April 26, 2004

The idea of having a national flag which is mostly white strikes me as rather silly. The confederacy experimented with such a design, but quickly stepped away from it when they realized that in the distance it was often mistaken for the white flag of surrender.
posted by clevershark at 10:11 PM on April 26, 2004

Horrible. This doesn't look like any of the flags from our other states.
posted by fatbobsmith at 10:21 PM on April 26, 2004

I think it needs a little U.S. flag in the upper left region. It would be a welcome nod to the practice that was so common under British imperialism.
posted by pjdoland at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2004

I agree, cautiously, skallas. I don't see any reason why we have to throw out the baby (national identity) with the bathwater (saddam). Shit, if we were going to actually redraw borders and such, a new flag would be a grand idea. This just seems like an effort to bury the past instead of attempting to integrate the future with it.
posted by scarabic at 10:28 PM on April 26, 2004

One thing about Iraq's old flag -- the Arabic allahu akbar ("God is great") was added just before the first Gulf War, on 1/13/91. (I've heard rumors that it's in Saddam's handwriting, but am not sure if that's true.)

Given that, I figure more Iraqis would want a return to the 1963 flag, but the WaPo article says otherwise.
posted by Vidiot at 10:29 PM on April 26, 2004

Historical Flags of Iraq.
posted by Vidiot at 10:29 PM on April 26, 2004

It looks like half Turkey and half Sweden to me.
posted by mathowie at 10:48 PM on April 26, 2004

Grade the flags.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:51 PM on April 26, 2004

Why don't we just give them a big white flag with a blood-red W in the middle of it and be done with it? Mission Accomplished!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:55 PM on April 26, 2004

The site PrinceValium linked to makes the interesting observation that the old iraqi flag is exactly the same as the Syrian flag, with 1 extra star. That's a decent reasion to drop it.
posted by malphigian at 11:23 PM on April 26, 2004

Yes, but why is it all wrinkly? Somebody just arrive on their Vespa with it clutched in their hands? Cunning indeed.
posted by Feisty at 11:53 PM on April 26, 2004

Chryst... some of you people are just relentless. Is it AT ALL possible for you to stay focused on the topic at hand without slipping in your constant rhetorical sarcastic political bullshit jabs and quips in every goddamn thread? It's fucking tiresome.
posted by Witty at 11:55 PM on April 26, 2004

Metafilter: constant rhetorical sarcastic political bullshit jabs and quips

That sums this site up surprisingly well...
posted by fatbobsmith at 12:50 AM on April 27, 2004

Yeah Witty... Since your pointing out of fallacies is just as boring as those fallacies themselves, you shouldn't do it. Apparently.
posted by ed\26h at 12:56 AM on April 27, 2004

If I were Right of Center, I would say: take what we give you...besides, you ought to have some red,white,blue to symbolize our new occupation and bases there.

If I were Left of Center: we will have a national rferendum and you can decide for yourself...submit designs for voting. No more than 20 thousand entries will be voted upon.
posted by Postroad at 3:45 AM on April 27, 2004

A jay-z points out there are ninety nine problems in iraq, but a flag ain't one.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:51 AM on April 27, 2004

OK, the Tigris/Euphrates thing I can go with, and the crescent in some form is fine. The rest must go. The Kurds? In such a divided nation, is it a good idea to emphasize just one ethnicity? Wasn't that part of the reason they got rid of Saddam? And the colour choice... where's the green or red? Is there a flag from a (basically) Moslem country without green or red? Too busy, too silly, too clipart, too much misdirected meaning.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:22 AM on April 27, 2004

Personally I think they should use the designer of the Hong Kong SAR. Talk about branding.
posted by infowar at 5:24 AM on April 27, 2004


So what you're saying is: People who are right of centre are fascist, while people who are left of centre are democratic.
posted by ed\26h at 5:44 AM on April 27, 2004

Why does the yellow represent the Kurds? And why can't they choose their own flag?

"No, I tried it before and it didn't work! I had four guys fighting to be Mr. Black"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:52 AM on April 27, 2004

looks like some guy with a Macintosh spent about 30 minutes working this up

tee hee. Thanks for the links, Vidiot; plus I learned a new word today!
posted by carter at 6:13 AM on April 27, 2004

Skallas: Call me crazy but what's really wrong with the old flag?

This page linked to from Back to Iraq explains it well:
In 1963 Syria and Iraq switched to 3 stars to represent pan-Arab (Ba'athist) solidarity (and Iraq alone has that flag today). (emphasis mine) I'm guessing they want to purge Iraq of all Ba'athist symbols, and the three stars on the old flag are quite prominent.
posted by zsazsa at 6:34 AM on April 27, 2004

Fascinating to learn about Iraq's previous flags, thanks, Vidiot. What's the rationale, other than trying to make it look like Israel's, and/or trying to achieve another massive P.R. debacle, for completely overhauling the colors for the first time?
posted by soyjoy at 7:28 AM on April 27, 2004

As some people have surmised, perhaps the reason the CPA IGC made it look completely different is so they can easily identify Iraqis hostile to the occupation. Waving the new flag? You're a "good" Iraqi. Waving the old flag or a variant thereof? You're evidently one of the insurgents.
posted by Vidiot at 7:39 AM on April 27, 2004

That's a decent reasion to drop it.

For the Iraqis to drop it, sure, if they want to. Where do we get off designing their flag for them? We're just giving them another reason to resent us, and it's not like they don't have plenty already. (Hint for the perspective-impaired: imagine a foreign power coming in, taking over Washington, and changing the American flag.)

And by "we," I mean "the gang of unelected thugs and criminals currently running the US."
posted by languagehat at 7:40 AM on April 27, 2004

imagine a foreign power coming in, taking over Washington, and changing the American flag.

Don't tease!

Actually, the US flag really could use a good overhaul. I love the comments in PrinceValium's linked page. Hey, if one star is good...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:16 AM on April 27, 2004

is it a good idea to emphasize just one ethnicity?

Aren't the Kurds in so much danger of being marginalized, numerically, and culturally, that this is hardly a concern?
posted by scarabic at 9:31 AM on April 27, 2004

well, it will give the Iraqis something to work on. It is just a flag right? What is important is the meaning behind it. Who designed it? did the U.S. design it? or did the council. and what about the kurds representation? does this say more about our arrogance or the councils stance on the kurds?
posted by clavdivs at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2004

I'm not sure what you mean, scarabic. Are you suggesting that since the Kurds will likely have so little say in the future of Iraq that any preferential treatment they receive (like flag acknowledgement) amounts to tokenism only? But if that's the case, why bother at all? I mean, what if they changed the American flag so that one of the stars was red, to represent Rhode Island? Would that still be "hardly a concern"?

Or is there some other meaning I'm missing?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:45 AM on April 27, 2004

I love flag design, and I too am disappointed by Iraq's flag design. The best flags our there tend to look symmetrical, balanced by shapes or colors. The Iraq flag is too bottom heavy, and that faint blue cresent looks dreary and desolate. ...That must be what life is like in Iraq.

The U.S. flag has gotten pretty ugly, too. A much better version of the U.S. flag is actually the state flag of Texas, of all places. It carries all the symbols and colors of our national flag, but simplifies them enough to make them a bit less tacky. You'll never get Texas to give up their flag, though.
posted by Down10 at 11:32 AM on April 27, 2004

This flag design really is gawd-awful. I don't really see a similarity to Israel's flag, outside of the blue...but it's certainly not in the panarabic colors either. The old flag was fine, let the Iraqis choose to change their flag by public referendum if desired.
posted by dejah420 at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2004

opps, kurds represented. still...
ah screw it
posted by clavdivs at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2004

It's not too late to enter the contest is it? Here's my entry!
posted by moonbiter at 9:03 PM on May 1, 2004

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