There is something slightly ominous about the reemergence of a number of colonial-era flags in the twenty-first century.
In 2011 rebel militias in Libya took the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya as their standard, and this is now used as the official Libyan flag in the post-Gaddafi era.
Although this symbol – red, black and green with a white star and crescent in the centre – was used in the African nation following its independence in 1951, ordinary Libyans continued to be treated like second-class citizens during this period, as the country was home to several British and American military installations. The bloodless coup that brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to power took place in 1961. In 1977 he renamed the state the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” – “Jamahiriya” roughly translating to “state of the masses” – and the country’s flag was reborn as a plain green field.
Despite the simplicity of this insignia-free flag, it was a powerful representation of Libya’s national identity, with the green symbolising both Gaddafi’s Green Book, and green being the traditional colour of Islam.
As with Libya, the armed groups currently attempting to overthrow the government of Syria – led by President Bashar al Assad – have raised the banner that first came into being as the country struggled to win its independence from France in the 1930s.
However, despite the creation of a treaty of independence to end official French rule in 1936, the French government refused to accept this agreement. Due to the outbreak of WWII and the fall of France in 1940, Syrian independence was deferred until after the war.
Khaled Kamal, an official of the Syrian National Council, has commented: “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”
The Financial Times says that the return to such earlier flags in Libya and Syria is an attempt by the opposition to distance themselves ideologically from both country’s periods of Arab nationalism. Despite the Western-backed SNC’s insistence that the old flag represents independence, it can alternatively be considered as an emblem of dependence; dependence on the old colonial powers – and the new American superpower – for survival. This is certainly true when considering that the SNC consists of Western-educated elites that haven’t set foot in Syria for years – possibly decades.
In reality war is being waged on Syria for refusing to give up its sovereignty to the forces of globalisation, just as Libya was destroyed by NATO for it’s self-determination. Syria is one of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; Iran is another, and Libya was pre-2011. The use of these twentieth century flags by the proxy armies are a sinister symbol of the fate that awaits those nations whom attempt to follow an independent path.
Iran be warned.
Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past