A Look At Syria Through The Eyes Of Its Many Flags

Syria’s history is rich and its capital, Damascus, is one of the oldest cities in the world. The flags of Syria also tell an interesting story.

Let’s take a brief look at those flags and see if it can give us more insight on Syria.

The Kingdom of Syria

Until the end of World War I, Syria was a part of the Ottoman Empire and used their symbols. After liberating the country in 1918, the Hashemite dynasty adopted the Arab Revolt flag.

flag of kingdom of Syria from 1920-03-08 to 1920-07-24

The flag was designed by a British diplomat who wanted to fuel the revolt. The symbol features a black-green-white tricolor with a red triangle that represents the royal family.

It was the official flag of the Kingdom of Syria until 1920 when the French occupied the country. It’s interesting to note that this flag is today the official flag of Jordan.

The French Occupation

French got the mandate of Syria from the Allied Supreme Council in 1920. General Henry Gouraud occupied Damascus and dethroned the King. Various sources claim that a sky-blue flag with a French Tricolore and a white crescent was used after the fall of King Faysal.

Gouraud established a Federation of Syria in 1922, which used a horizontal green-white-green flag with the French Tricolore in canton. The State of Syria formed in 1924 by the merging of Aleppo and Damascus used the same flag.

The Syrian Republic

Nationalists were getting stronger in the twenties and the French were pressurized into allowing the formation of the Syrian Republic in 1930. According to the Constitution of the newly-formed republic, its flag was divided into three equal and parallel green, white and black sections, with the three stars representing the districts in the middle. History books claim that the flag was first flown in Aleppo in January 1932.

Although they signed the Independence Treaty in 1936, the French remained in Syria until the World War II finished. In 1946, the Syrian Republic got full independence and confirmed the green-white-black tricolor as an official symbol.

flag of the United Arab Republic

The United Arab Republic

Syria formed the United Arab Republic with Egypt in 1958. This short-lived union lasted for three years and was broken up after an uprising by the Syrian Army. The United Arab Republic used a horizontal tricolor with red, white and black colors. The two green stars in the center represented Syria and Egypt.

The Ba’athist regime tried to make a new union with Egypt and Iraq in 1963. Although the process failed, Syria adopted a flag that should have symbolized the union. It was a small adjustment compared to the United Arab Republic’s pennant as there were three starts in the center (Syria, Egypt, and Iraq).

The Federation of Arab Republics

Syria continued the tendency to form unions in the seventies. The president Hafez al-Assad signed a treaty to constitute the Federation of Arab Republics with Libya and Egypt in 1972. The official flag replaced the stars in the middle with the Hawk of Quraish. The hawk, which is a symbol of the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, held the ribbon with the name of the Federation. Syria’s flag was a bit different as it did not include the name of the country below the scroll.

The Federation lasted until 1977, but Syria used the flag for three more years.

Syrian Flag Today – A Country of Two Flags

The last change of the official flag in Syria occurred in 1980. The horizontal red-white-black tricolor with two green stars was readopted as a symbol of Syria’s dedication to the Arab unity.

Historians offer several alternatives for what the colors on the flag mean:

  • Red – the blood spilled for freedom
  • White – the Umayyad Caliphate (or a peaceful future)
  • Black – the Abbasids Caliphate (or oppression)
  • Green – the Fatimid Caliphate (or the Rashidun)
  • Stars – the former union between Syria and Egypt.

The official flag is associated with the parties loyal to the current government. It motivated the Syrian opposition to readopt the independence flag from 1932. You can see their flag in parts of the country under their control.

Below is the flag used by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Known as “the symbol of Syria’s uprising,” this flag is based on the Independence Flag from 1932.

flag of syria 2011 observed

Final Words

Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the TV show “Big Bang Theory” is a famous flag lover. He could make several episodes of his Fun with Flags show by using Syria’s symbols.

The country’s rich history enabled it to be rich in flags, too. Thank you to The Flag Makers for info on the flags of Syria.

Photo credit:

  1. First flag: Creative Commons image source
  2. Second flag: Creative Commons image source
  3. Third flag: Creative Commons image source