The flag shown above was designed by Arab students who were members of the Arab Literary Forum in Istanbul in 1909 AD. It initially included four colors:
Shortly after, however, they decided to remove the red band because it also symbolized the Ottoman Turks whom they were trying to become independent of, and rearranged the remaining three rectangles with green on top, white in the middle, and black at the bottom, adopted officially in Beirut by the underground organization known as the Young Arab Society (الجمعية العربية الفتاة) in March, 1914.
This Arab flag of green, white, and black was adopted among many secret Arab organizations throughout Ottoman-ruled Syria, and on a visit to Damascus in 1915, the 33-year-old Abdullah bin Hussein (who would later become the first king of Jordan) met with the Young Arab Society, joined them as a member, and asked to have one of their flags to take back home, to Hejaz (the western region in today's Saudi Arabia which includes Mecca and Medina). The flag of Hejaz was similar to the flag of all Arab emirates at the time: plain red.
The story continues; that in 1917 (the Arab Revolt had already begun on June 10, 1916), Hussein bin Ali and his sons, Abdullah and Faysal, decided to add their flag to the borrowed flag, as a triangle attached on the left, to finally look like this:
In another story, the flag that Abdullah had brought back with him from Damascus already had not one but two red triangles on either side of the flag, with a verse from an Iraqi poet called Safee al-Deen al-Hilli (1276 - 1349 AD), which read: "White are our deeds, Black are our battles. Green are our lands, Red are our blades."
Then the Hashemites removed that verse and one of the red triangles (on the right side), which gave us the Arab Revolt flag shown above.
But unfortunately, neither of these two stories can be confirmed with reliable evidence. There is a third story, however, which seems to be the official story among scholars, an embarrassing story, about the British diplomat who had divided the Arab countries into what they look like today; "Sir Mark Sykes had been the one who designed the flag under which the Arab Army under Faysal and Lawrence marched on Damascus during World War I...."
Official British documents had preserved a letter written in February 22, 1917 by Mark Sykes to Reginald Wingate in which he enclosed several drawings of what he proposed to be the Arab flag, one of which was ultimately chosen to be the Arab Revolt flag. He wrote that some combination of the four colors should be present in the flag (as he explained the meaning of those colors to Arabs) so as to clarify that it is a pan-Arab revolt and not just a Hashemite or Hejazi revolt.
One fact is agreed upon in all three stories: the Arab Revolt flag was adopted officially on June 10, 1917, replacing the plain red Hejazi/Hashemite flag. This was announced in Al-Qiblah newspaper (issued in Mecca) on that day, commemorating the one year anniversary of the Arab Revolt.
Damascus, being the greatest Arab city at the time, was chosen to be the capital of the newly founded independent Arab kingdom (which geographically included today's Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Hejaz). And so it was: the British-founded Hashemite Kingdom of Syria, ruled by Faysal bin Hussein (Abdullah's younger brother), adopting the Arab Revolt flag as Syria's flag:
In March of 1920, upon the proclamation of Faysal as king by the Syrian national congress, a white seven-pointed star (also known as Faysal's star) was added to the flag to denote that this was the first freed region, and to distinguish it from the flag of Hejaz which was still ruled by his father, Hussein bin Ali.
There are several theories as to why a seven-pointed star was chosen. The official story claims that the star had seven points to symbolize the number of verses in the first chapter of the Quran, but this story cannot be taken seriously (explained later).
This independence, however, did not last long. It turned out that the British had already signed the Sykes-Picot agreement with France in May of 1916 (one month before the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans had even started) in which the British agreed to hand over northern Syria (today's Syria, Lebanon, and northern Iraq) to the French. When the time came to execute the agreement, however, the British had made a slight amendment to the map excluding northern Iraq from the area allotted to the French, after having discovered massive oil reserves there.
In accordance with Sykes-Picot, the French invaded Syria in late July 1920 (only four months after Faysal was officially proclaimed king), overthrew the Hashemite kingdom, and established French rule. The British would reinstitute Faysal as the king of Iraq one year later in an attempt to quel the Iraqi rebellion against the British.
Like the Iraqis, the Syrians fought endlessly against the colonizer, beginning with the battle of Maysaloun. Moreover, Hussein bin Ali (father of the dethroned Faysal) dispatched an army led by his second son, Abdullah, to attack the French from the south. As Abdullah's army camped in the mountains of the uninhabited city of Ammon عمّون (November 1920), the British authorities (Churchill and Samuel) called for a meeting with Abdullah in Jerusalem to discuss the grand plan. He was told to forget about Syria and the French, and not to worry about avenging his younger brother, Faysal, for he was going to become king of Iraq. Abdullah was convinced that this situation would only be temporary, and so he agreed.
The British crowned Abdullah as emir of Transjordania in April of 1921, and Faysal as king of Iraq on 23 August 1921. The Arab Revolt flag was adopted with adjustments: the white and green bands were switched.
And in Iraq the triangle became a trapezoid, and two seven-pointed (Faysali) stars were added instead of one to signify its chronological rank as second after Syria.
Here, the official schools' textbook story claims that the two seven-pointed stars represent the 14 provinces of Iraq, apparently because the story of the seven Quranic verses could not be applied in this case.
In that meeting with the British in Jerusalem in March of 1921, Abdullah's original demand was to rule over the entire mandate of Palestine (i.e. what remained of the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria). But his request was denied because the British had promised Palestine (on boths sides of the river) to the Zionist Jews.
So instead of giving the whole of Palestine to Abdullah, they decided to create what the British called a "buffer zone" across the river of Jordan (i.e. Trans-Jordan) to protect the soon-to-be-born Jewish state. Hence, Transjordan was not only separated from Syria in the north, but also from what remained of Palestine in the west and from Hejaz in the south.
Abdullah agreed to this because, according to historical records, he believed that by agreeing he would gain British favor to eventually help him regain northern Syria from the French (read Jospeh Massad's Colonial Effects, 2001). This is why Transjordan at first was declared an emirate and not a kingdom, believing that when the French leave, the Hashemite kingdom of Syria, of which Jordan is only a part, will be resurrected. And so, at the same time that Abdullah was crowned as Emir of Transjordan, his father was proclaimed king of Hejaz in 1921.
The British, seeing how troublesome the Iraqi rebellion had become, decided to extend Transjordan's borders deep into Iraq. And with the fall of Hejaz in 1925 to Ibn Saud who also attempted to invade Transjordan in that year, the British bombed Saudi forces out of Jordan and, furthermore, gave its territory more sprawl to the south and southeast (annexing the area from Maan to Aqaba from the recently created Saudi kingdom) in order to fortify the "buffer zone" aforementioned, fulfilling the Faysal-Weizman treaty.
Meanwhile, the French divided the incessantly-rebelling northern Syria into five French states (the state of Damascus, the state of Aleppo, the state of Souaida and Jebel Druze, the Alawite territory, and the state of Lebanon), all part of the French-ruled Syrian Federation.
Back in 1921, Jordan was only called the Territory of the Arab East (منطقة الشرق العربي), because it wasn't still clear what official name it should be given. But in 1928, Jordan's borders and national identity became clear as its first constitution was drafted. It was in that year that the Faysal seven-pointed star was added onto its flag to confirm that it was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria awaiting liberation from the French.
Meanwhile, the Syrian rebellions finally forced the French in 1930 to allow a freely-elected Syrian parliament draft a Syrian constitution and design their own flag which they adopted in 1932.
The flag was clearly based on the first Arab flag created by the Young Arab Society which was secretly adopted in Beirut in 1914. They added three red stars as symbols of the three main states of Syria that had been semi-liberated: Aleppo, Damascus, and Deir el-Zour. As other states were liberated, no changes were made to the flag.
This Syrian flag of revolution and liberation was reconfirmed on the official day of Syrian independence, April 17, 1946, and remained in place until 1958. Incidentally, this was the same year that Transjordan transformed from an emirate to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (May 25, 1946), because it became clear to Abdullah that the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria was not going to be resurrected. The national anthem of Jordan "O Syria of Glory..." was replaced with the royal anthem "Long live the king...."
Unfortunately, before the last French soldier had left Syria in 1946, they succeeded in severing one of its five colonies from Syria by giving it full independence three years earlier. In 1943, the state of Lebanon was declared an independent state, and its new flag was designed by Henri Pharaon, member of the Lebanese Parliament and founder of the "Austro-Lebanese Association of Friendship." He simply pasted the Lebanese cedar onto an Austrian flag.
As for Syria, it replaced its three-red-starred revolution and independence flag with another one in 1958. That was the year that Abdul-Nasser of Egypt formed the United Arab Republic (al-jumhooriyyah al-Arabiyyah al-muttahidah), adopting a new flag that combined both the Egyptian and Syrian flags, to form this:
The red, white, and black bands represented the Arab Liberation Flag, and the two green stars represented the two united states of Egypt and Syria. Green was chosen to maintain the fourth color of the Syrian/Arab flag.
In response to this Egyptian-Syrian union, the Hashemite kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq, under British sponsorship, united into one Hashemite kingdom in February of 1958, and the flag to their new union simply required removing the white Faysali stars which differentiated them, reverting to the original Hashemite flag.
Neither of the two unions lasted long. In August of 1958, only six months later, the Hashemite union fell apart after the Iraqi radical leftist groups, led by Abdul-Karim Qassim, toppled the Hashemite regime in Iraq in a bloody coup. Jordan then re-entered the Faysali star and that has been Jordan's flag ever since.
As for Iraq, a new flag based on the original Arab flag of the Young Arab Society (1914) was created.
The three color bands chosen for the same reasons aforementioned (the three great Arab dynasties), adding a yellow sun to represent the Kurds, surrounded by a red eight-pointed star (the star of Ishtaar) to represent the Assyrians. (Interestingly this flag continued to be used in Iraqi Kurdistan in their rebellion against Saddam until today).
Meanwhile the United Arab Republic of Syria and Egypt fell apart in 1961 due to internal conflicts. Both Egypt and Syria reverted to their original flags. In 1963, however, the Baath party (which believes in one Arab State from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf) usurped power in both Syria and Iraq, which led them to re-adopt the flag of the United Arab Republic, with three stars instead of two, symbolizing Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, as a way to invite Egypt to rejoin the union.
But great conflict took place between Syria and Iraq, and in 1971, with Nasserism expanding so rapidly throughout the Arab world, a new flag was adopted by Syria, Egypt, and Libya: the flag of the Union of Arab Republics (Ettihad al-Jumhooriyyat al-Arabiyyah).
This union did not last long either. It fell apart when Egyptian president, Sadat, visited the Israeli Knesset in Tel Aviv to normalize relations in November, 1977. Syria went back to its flag of 1958, to distinguish it from Iraq (which kept the three stars).
While the British were giving independence or semi-independence to their colonies in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, they kept Palestine under their direct control until the Balfour promise to the Zionists was realized on the ground.
When the time came for the British to leave what remained of Palestine (between the river and the sea), the Palestinian Arabs (in the Gaza Conference of 1948) declared Palestine as an independent state (which was only recognized by the members of the Arab League) and reconfirmed the Arab flag that was hoisted in Jordan (1921 - 1928), to show that they are one integral state.
But because part of the Zionist campaign is to delete Palestine from history, many have come to believe that the Palestinian flag and identity were created by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) out of thin air in the 1960s. The truth is that in 1964, the PLO in all its factions simply reconfirmed the same flag that had already been used for decades, instead of resorting to creating a new one. The PLO simply reconfirmed this flag for the same reasons it was reconfirmed earlier in 1948: the integral unity with Jordan, Syria, and the Arab world at large.
Jordan was never meant to be separated from Palestine, and those two were never meant to be separated from Syria, and Syria was never meant to be separated from Iraq. History has been rewritten in books, to make the new generations believe as though Syrians have always been different people; different nations. To learn more about the history of Greater Syria, go here.
In August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait on the argument that Kuwait had always been part of Iraq until it was severed by the British in 1961. Although a historical fact, no reasonable observer could believe that those were Iraq's intentions, because a reunion cannot be created through invasion and torture dungeons, and Kuwait was not militarily occupied by foreigners in order to be liberated by force.
The US, of course, could not tolerate this threat to its hegemony over Arab oil and quickly formed an international coalition and forced Iraq out in February of 1991. During that war, Saddam Hussein, in an infamous act of propaganda, added the words "God is Greater" onto the Iraqi flag with his own hand-writing, which then became the new Iraqi flag.
The inhumane economic sanctions and the dismantlement of the Iraqi military capability finally led to the US full-scale and illegal genocidal invasion of Iraq in 2003, toppling the regime and establishing an interim proxy government, during which a new Iraqi flag was created, removing the stars that once stood for unity with Syria and Egypt, and rewriting in Kufic script the words that Saddam had added, to reinforce religiousity, not pan-Arab nationalism.
^ Return to Top
The Kingdom of Egypt (including today's Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan) gained its independence from the British in 1923. And this was the revolutionary flag it adopted:
Egypt, like the rest of the Arab world, had been an Ottoman province, with the Ottoman flag (the one still used in Turkey today) flailing in its skies even after its administrative independence in 1826 under the rule of Mohammad Ali (adjusting the white star from five-pointed to seven-pointed).
It was only in 1867 that a couple more stars (and in some versions a couple more crescents) were added, bringing the total to three stars (and three crescents) to represent the sultanate's three territories: Egypt, Nubia, and Sudan.
In the revolution of 1919, Egyptian revolutionaries adopted a new flag, simply switching the red to green. Why green? Because it was the color of the flag of Arab Fatimids who had ruled over Egypt and other North African regions for nearly three centuries (909 - 1171 AD); the golden age of the Arabs.
This did not last long, however. A second revolution led by Abdul Nasser and colleagues from the Free Officers movement usurped power in 1952 and replaced that flag with a new one: the Arab Liberation Flag.
This was the flag that the Free Officers had adopted. It is based on the Syrian flag, with a red band on top instead of green.
To represent the Egyptian part of this "Arab flag," an Egyptian symbol was added in the center: the golden eagle of Saladdin, with the old Egyptian flag on its chest.
In 1958, with Jamal Abdul-Nasser's great influence, he united Egypt with Syria, in what became known as the United Arab Republic (al-Jumhooriyyah al-Arabiyyah al-Muttahidah). And so the Arab Liberation Flag was adopted for both countries, with two green stars in the middle, representing Egypt and Syria.
Even though this newly founded union was dismantled in 1961, Egypt continued to use this flag until 1972, when the Federation of Arab States was established, which included Egypt, Syria, and Libya.
On November 9, 1977, Egypt's president, Anwar al-Sadat, announced he was going to visit Israel to discuss the terms of the peace treaty which included normalization and mutual recognition between the two countries. That announcement, followed by the actual visit to Jerusalem, brought the weak federation to an end on the following day, November 10, 1977. But Egypt continued to use this federation flag until 1984, when in Hosni Mubarak's reign the words "Federation of Arab Republics" were replaced with "The Arab Republic of Egypt."
Another important development was when Abdul-Nasser was trying to get the British out of Sudan in the early 50's (after the revolution). He found that the best way to accomplish this was to declare Sudan independent from Egypt (for Egypt and Sudan had been one country for the past 136 years). The strategy worked, and the British withdrew from Sudan, making it an independent country in 1956, with this flag adopted:
Blue represented the Nile, yellow the desert, and green agriculture. Finally in 1970, the Sudanese adopted an Arab Liberation flag (Nasserite flag), attaching a green triangle on the left to resemble the Palestinian flag which had become a symbol of revolution and struggle for freedom.
In 2012, the southern part of Sudan, which had been struggling for autonomous rule then independence for years, finally ceded from Sudan in a relatively peaceful agreement with the government of the north after a general referendum in the south. Sudan maintained its government structure, while South Sudan developed a new direction, and the new flag it chose was the same flag it carried out its struggle since 2005.
This flag clearly resembles the flag of neighboring Kenya (which in turn resemble the colors of Africa), with a triangle attached to make it look like Sudan's flag, except it's blue with a yellow star common in other neighboring African flags, such as Central Africa, Congo, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.
The Hashemites from Hejaz (the western portion of today's Saudi Arabia; includes Mecca and Medina) were the main Arab partners of the British in the First World War against the Ottomans, as they were promised Arab independence. But as Britain's true intentions became clear after the war1, particularly in 1918 when the French invaded and toppled the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria2 based in Damascus, the British began to mistrust the Hashemites, in particular the king of Hejaz, Hussein bin Ali (the father of the later-to-be-kings Abdullah of Jordan and Faysal of Syria-Iraq), who seemed bent on achieving true independence from British and French colonial rule as he often expressed his disapproval of the agreements that his two sons were signing with the British, French, and Zionists.
It was then that the British found a new partner who was willing to play along with their plans for the region; a ruthless tribe of bandits led by Ibn Saud from the region of Nejd (a northern province of today's Saudi Arabia) in the emirate of Ha'il (حائل). They recognized his ability when in 1921 he toppled the house of Al-Rasheed, the rulers of the Arab emirate of Ha'il (that remained loyal to the Ottoman Empire during the war), thus creating factual borders with Iraq and Jordan to block Hashemite expansion.
The emirate of Ha'il, named after their capital city, was ruled by the house of Rasheed. The first flag of Al-Rasheed was based on the Ottoman flag.
In Hejaz, the birth place of the Arab Revolt led by the Hashemites, a plain red flag was used (as aforementioned) up until June 10, 1917, when the new Arab Revolt flag was adopted.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, The Rasheeds in Ha'il adopted a similar flag but replaced the white band with a yellow one (inspired from their original flag), as a show of solidarity with the Hejazis.
When Hejaz was declared a kingdom, at the same time that Transjordan was declared an emirate, a new flag was adopted for both of them: the Arab Revolt flag, with the green and white bands switched.
None of these flags lasted long, as Ibn Saud, aided by the British, continued to take over the Arabian Peninsula, including Hejaz in 1925, stopping short of Transjordan where his forces were blocked by the British. The Saudis then established their kingdom and named it the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, then soon after as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis, being from Nejd (which was part of Ha'il), first adopted the ancient flag of Nejd:
After conquering Ha'il and Hejaz, the Saudis adjusted their Nejdi flag, replacing the crescent with a sword and the two testimonies of Islam - "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is a messenger of God."
This flag included several variations over the years, mostly by adding a white rectangle to the left. But its main theme remained constant until today. This is what it looks like now:
To the east of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the British created several emirates for different purposes and at different times, installing emirs who came from more central parts of the kingdom. The first of these emirates was Kuwait, secretly annexed from the Ottoman province of Basra in 1899 by a British-Kuwaiti treaty, then finalizing the annexation officially in 1913 with Ottoman recognition. The reason for this early annexation was British fears of the planned Berlin-Baghdad railway (the construction of which began in the 1890s) which would have given Germany access to the Persian Gulf, since Kuwait is basically Iraq's gate to its only access to international waters. Kuwait was given its independence from the British in June of 1961, and its flag was created in September and adopted in November of that year. The Kuwaiti flag's design seems to be based on the Iraqi Hashemite flag.
Recall that this was Iraq's Hashemite flag:
Before the official British annexation of Kuwait from the Ottoman empire in 1913, Kuwait (like Iraq) hoisted the pan-Islamic Ottoman flag (red background with white crescent and star). But after annexation, the crescent and star were removed, giving Kuwait it's plain red flag typical of all Arab emirates in the Persian Gulf. Kuwaiti boats either hoisted a plain red flag, or a red flag with the word "Kuwait" inscribed on it.
Five years later, the British created nine more emirates where they had discovered massive reserves of oil and natural gas. Those emirates were: Abu-Dhabi, Ajman, Bahrain, Dubai, Fujaira, Qatar, Ras al-Kheima, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwayn. When the British left in 1970-1971, these nine emirates became independent states. Abu Dhabi (the largest of all nine emirates in size) and Dubai decided to unite into one federated state, then invited the others to join. All accepted except Bahrain and Qatar.
At first, all these emirates, like Kuwait, had the same red flag:
But with the union of the seven Arab emirates, forming the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), a new pan-Arab flag was adopted, also inspired by the original Arab Independence flag pioneered by the Hashemites and pan-Syrians:
As for Qatar and Bahrain, they retained their red flags which they had been using since decades before, with the British adding a white band on the left, separated with a serrated line with a different number of triangles to distinguish the emirates from one another (this white band with a serrated line was also introduced in the other emirates at different times, including Kuwait).
The number of triangles in that separation line was the only way to tell them apart: Qatar had nine, and Bahrain had eight; meaning Bahrain is the eighth member of the Arab emirates, and Qatar is the nineth. Later on, Qatar switched from red to maroon to further distinguish the two flags.
Bahrain, upon becoming a kingdom in 2002, reduced the number of triangles to five, so that now the Bahraini flag looks like this:
Why five triangles? Official textbook history claims that five was chosen because it is the number of the pillars of Islam. This superficial, baseless explanation resembles the ones given for the Jordanian and Moroccan flags (explained in their respective sections on this page). The number of triangles was most probably reduced to further distinguish the Bahraini flag from the Qatari one, and a sign of renewal to go along the transformation of Bahrain from an emirate to a kingdom.
And last but not least is the Sultanate of Oman. What comprises Oman today were three regions: Muscat (the coastal area), Inner Oman or Middle Oman (عُمان الوسطى), and Dhofar to the south. The flag of Muscat was an all-red flag like the Arab emirates.
The flag of inner Oman, also known as the Imamah State of Oman (دولة إمامة عُمان) was all-white. And the flag of Dhofar (south of Oman) was all-green. In December of 1970, the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, annexing the region of Dhofar, became known simply as the Sultanate of Oman. The three horizontal bands on the right side of the flag represent the three regions of the sultanate, then to the left is the flag and emblem of the ruling family (all red with two swords and a dagger in white).
Unlike other Arab regions, Yemen is unique in many ways. For starters, Yemen had become independent from the Ottomans as early as 1630! In 1839, South Yemen was colonized by the British because of its strategic location on the route to India. To counter the British, the Ottomans tried once again to take over North Yemen, several times, most notably in 1849. The Ottomans had a breakthrough in 1872 with the help of locals, but rebellions erupted on a continuous basis until the Ottomans decided the only way to maintain their presence was t give North Yemen its autonomous rule under the Zaidi imam Yahya in 1911. When the Ottoman empire fell in 1918, Yemen declared itself as an independent kingdom, the Mutawakkelite Kingdom of Yemen, and the imam became king.
Before 1918, the Yemeni flag was simply the Ottoman flag of white crescent and five-pointed star on a red background. Then in 1923, the two testimonies of Islam were added:
Finally arriving at the final version of the kingdom's flag:
Meanwhile in South Yemen, the Ottoman flag was replaced with the British flag upon its colonization in 1839. Then in 1937, the British introduced this colonial flag:
It's important to note here that the name "Yemen" was used losely to represent the south of the Arabian Peninsula, since the word yaman originally refers to the south. If you were to face the sun as it rises in the east as you stand in Arabia, your right hand would point towards Yemen (which is why the direction of "right" is called "yameen" in Arabic), while your left hand would point towards the north, shamal (which is why the direction of "left" is called "shemal" in Arabic).
Therefore, it is believed that the Arabs in Yemen were called Yemenis by the Arabs of the north such as the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). He called them the people of yamaan (يمان), as opposed to the people of shamaal (شمال).
This is important because it would better explain how the new national identity of "Yemeni" came about. The Romans referred to middle Arabia as "Arabia Deserta," and referred to southern Arabia as "Arabia Felix," due to a different translation of the word Yumn (يُمن) which means happiness. It is from this Roman naming that Arabs began to refer to Yemen as "Happy Yemen (اليمن السعيد)". The British, however, simply referred to their Yemeni colonies as South Arabia, ultimately creating a federation of all its colonies called: Federation of South Arabia (اتحاد الجنوب العربي).
Back in the independent Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yamaan, a Nasserite revolution finally succeeded in overthrowing the king and establishing the Arab Republic of Yemen and adopting the Arab Liberation Flag with two green stars to express unity with Egypt and Syria.
But in about a month, North Yemen kept only one star instead of two.
In the south of Yemen, the revolution expelled the British once and for all, without diplomatic ceremony, in 1967, and the Socialist party established the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية الشعبية). They adopted the Arab Liberation flag of red, white, and black, and added a light blue triangle with a red star to represent socialism.
Finally, on May 22, 1990, the two Yemens united into one Yemen. As for the flag, both north and south removed the distinguishing features, reverting to the original Arab Liberation flag which was first used by Egypt in 1952.
After the French invaded and colonized Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia, the Italians invaded Libya in 1911 and defeated the Ottomans there. The British had already taken Egypt. The end of the Sick Man (as the Ottoman Empire was called in those days) was becoming evident.
The United Kingdom of Libya was created after independence from Italy was fulfilled in 1951.
This flag was based on the flags of the three Italian colonies (formerly three Ottoman Vilayets) that united into the kingdom of Libya: Cyrenaica (Burqa; east), Tripolitania (northwest), and Fezzan (southwest).
The flag of Burqa was given more prominence in the Libyan flag because that was where the king of Libya, Idris al-Senussi, had come from.
The word, Libya, was first used by the Italian occupiers, who had copied it from the Greeks who called all of north Africa by the name Libya.
In 1969, inspired by Abdul-Nasser in Egypt, an army general by the name of Muammar al-Qaddafi toppled the king and usurped power, adopting the Arab Liberation Flag of Nasser.
Upon joining the Federation of Arab Republics in 1972, Libya hoisted the same flag as did the other members of the federation: Egypt and Syria; adding the golden eagle of Saladdin to the flag.
But when Egypt's president made his infamous visit to the Israeli Knesset in Tel Aviv in 1977, the federation came to an end, as Syria and Libya immediately broke away. Al-Qaddafi, Libya's dictator, then concluded that the "Arab Cause" is a delusion and shifted his geopolitical views inwards, adopting a plain green flag in 1978, homage to the Fatimid Dynasty that ruled north Africa independently from the capital of the Muslim Caliphate in Baghdad 1000 years ago.
This remained the Libyan flag until the Libyan revolution in February of 2011, which quickly turned into a civil war and finally a full-scale war with European nations arming the rebels and bombing al-Qaddafi's forces and bases. The Libyan peaceful protests had begun to raise the pre-Qaddafi Libyan flag, not because they wanted the return of the monarchy, but because it was the only flag of an independent Libya that had not been used under al-Qaddafi's brutal reign which they were trying to end.
As for Tunisia, it pretty much retained the same flag, which was modified from the Ottoman flag upon its independence.
There was a proposal in 1974 for the founding of the "Arab Islamic Republic" between Libya and Tunisia, but the Tunisians backed off in the end. Had they accepted, the proposed flag of this republic would have combined the Tunisian flag with the Libyan flag at the time, namely the Arab Liberation flag of Egypt, to look like this:
In Algeria, as in Tunisia, the Ottoman flag was used until the French occupation of the country. Then the great Algerian freedom fighter, Abdul-Qader, designed a flag with two green bands (top and bottom), with a white band in the middle. Some say the design was inspired by an Andalusian Arab flag. In the 1940s, two revolutionary seamsters edited the flag to what it looks like today, using the colors of Abdul-Qader's flag, and adding the Islamic/Ottoman crescent and star. It was officially adopted on Algeria's day of independence in 1962.
It's interesting to note that of all Arab countries, Morocco is the only one that had never come under direct Ottoman rule or occupation. Morroco had been an independent sultanate for centuries, and its flag used to be a plain white flag until it was changed in 1666 by the Alawite Dynasty to an all-red flag. Depending on the sultan that ruled afterwards, certain symbols were added to the center of the flag, such as a golden eight-pointed star, a golden pair of scissors, and finally a six-pointed green star. This star, as well as the eight-pointed star, were known among Moroccans (Muslims and Jews) as the Seal of Solomon (خاتم سليمان); also as the Star of David (نجمة داوود). The star was added mainly to distinguish the Moroccan flag from other flags, namely Ottoman flags.
In 1915, while Morocco was under French rule (1912 - 1956) and by a decree from the Moroccon sultan, the six-pointed star was changed into a five-pointed star, while still referring to it as the Seal of Solomon (as the text of his decree shows). What's interesting is that he made no mention of the six-pointed star that he had replaced, as though he wanted to erase its existence from history.
Of course, it wasn't he who wanted to replace the star but the French marshall (resident general) who ruled Morocco from 1907 to 1925, Louis Lyautey. No official reason was ever given, but it is widely believed that European anti-Semitism at the time could not tolerate what Europeans saw as a Jewish symbol on the flag of a French colony. In Morocco's history school textbooks, the six-pointed star is never mentioned, and the five-pointed star, which the sultan of Morocco had referred to as the Seal of Solomon in his 1915 decree, is explained as a representation of the five pillars of Islam.
South of Morocco is the autonomous-ruled Western Sahara, also known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is still struggling for independence. Its freedom fighters, known as the Polisario (short for the Spanish name of their movement: Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro, which translates to: The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Red Canal and Gold River), have adopted a Palestinian flag in 1976 with a red crescent and star, the symbol of most north African Arab nations.
Mauritania, like Sudan, consists of many ethnic groups of which the Arabs are barely a majority. This is why its full name is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and not Arabic. They were called Mauritania by the French colonizers in 1902, reviving an old Roman name for north African regions. The dynasty that maintained and extended Arab rule over Andalusia (Iberia), known as al-Moravids (المرابطون), originally comes from Mauritania. They ruled over Mauritania, Morocco and Andalusia, and it was they who built the city of Marrakech in Morocco (where the name "Morocco" originally comes from), which had remained the capital city of Morocco for centuries under the dynasties of al-Moravids, al-Mohads (الموحدون), and others during the Golden Age of Islam. The original Mauritanians were Amazighi converts to Islam before the arrival of Arab settlers during the al-Moravid dynasty.
Their flag was designed close to their independence from the French, with the typical crescent and star of north African nations.