Skip to main content

Iraq's war of flags

A struggle over flags has emerged in Iraq, where the various forces fighting the Islamic State seek to promote their own identities and are desecrating the symbols of rival groups.
Shi'ite fighters, known as Hashid Shaabi, clash with Islamic State militants, as one tries to put a Shi'ite flag in the ground, in northern Tikrit, March 12, 2015. Iraqi security forces and mainly Shi'ite militia fought Islamic State fighters in Tikrit on Thursday, a day after they pushed into Saddam Hussein's home city in their biggest offensive yet against the militants. Picture taken March 12, 2015.    REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR4T6WJ
Read in 

BAGHDAD — During periods of social unrest, controversy grows over questions of identity. The struggle over flags in Iraq is a symbolic conflict that reflects a deeper one plaguing Iraqi society, which still has not been able to agree on a national identity that brings together the different religions, tribes and sects.

In Sinjar, the hub of the Yazidi minority, a conflict broke out Nov. 13 among the different Kurdish forces that took part in the fighting to liberate the city from the Islamic State. These forces included the Kurdistan Workers Party, the peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region and Yazidi-affiliated local forces. Trouble arose when the various forces wanted to raise their flags at government buildings in the city to symbolize their taking control over the city.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.