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Afghanistan 1996-2001

Taliban regime, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | taliban | taleban | islamic emirate | plain (white) | text: arabic (black) | shahada |
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[Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 1996-2001 (Afghanistan)]

 

image by Marcus Schmöger | 2:3 or 1:2?
Flag adopted 27th October 1997, abolished 2001


See also:


Introduction

In 1996 the Taliban regime, which had been waging a guerrilla war throughout Afghanistan since the Russians left, took over the capital, Kabul. The United Nations Organization never ceased to recognize the previous regime (the so-called 'Northern Alliance' which kept in control of some territory during 1996-2001) and flew the green-white-black tricolour with gold arms.
From contributions by Ivan Sache, Dave Martucci, Jaume Ollé and Jan Oskar Engene, October 1997 - April 1998

Reuters news agency reported on 26 October 1997 that the Taliban government changed the name from Islamic State of Afghanistan to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. According to Reuters, the name change was announced by a Taliban-controlled radio station, "in an order issued by the Emir al-Momineen Mullah Mohammed Omar", thus formalising the position as head of state in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan of Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban, who is known as Emir al-Momineen (Leader of the Faithful). Reuters noted that this was the third time in five years that the official name was changed. The communist regime used the name Republic of Afghanistan, while the insurgents that overthrew that regime changed the country's name to Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The Taliban government was only recognised by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The former government kept the seat at the United Nations. In August 1997 the United States was to close the Afghan embassy in Washington, because of a dispute between a staff member supporting the Taliban government and another staff member supporting the former government, who clashed on 28 May 1997 over which flag should fly over the embassy. Sources: Taliban change name of Afghanistan to Emirate, Reuters, 26 October 1997; U.S. Closing Afghan Embassy, ABC News, 15 August 1997.
Jan Oskar Engene
, 28 October 1997

In September 1996 the Taliban took over the capital, Kabul, and soon thereafter most of Afghanistan. From then until the war that followed the 11th September 2001 attacks against New York and Washington, the green-white-black flag was only used in Northern Afghanistan, the United Nations building plus some embassies (e.g. Iran). After the Taliban defeat in November-December 2001, both the 1992 flag and the 1973 flag —and even the earlier April 1992 flag— were flown by different factions within the anti-Taliban forces.
Santiago Dotor
, 12 December 2001


Description

Smith 1997k (...) said that Afghanistan flied a white flag with the Shahada inscribed on it in green. This may have been introduced officially on 27 October 1997 along with the official name change (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan). We are not even sure when the change occurred, only that it is being used at border posts and when the emir visited Pakistan.
From contributions by Ivan Sache, Dave Martucci, Jaume Ollé and Jan Oskar Engene, October 1997 - April 1998

According to information supplied by Abu Mujahid of the Taliban about the national flag, the ratio is 1:2 and the Arabic writing on it is black not green. This source said that the one in black is the official flag, and that it was introduced two days before the date in Smith 1997k, i.e. on October 25th 1997. It was shown at the Taliban's New York Office website [broken link as of April 2001].
Jaume Ollé
, October 1997 - April 1998

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Official Website [broken link as of April 2001] displays a different flag to the one above.
Gvido Petersons
, 7 November 2000

The outermost third of the writing seems to be the same as above. Maybe this version of the shahada has a differing beginnings, missing "ashhadu" (I testify)?
Ole Andersen
, 7 November 2000

The word "ashhadu" is not written on either of the image above or on the fluttering flag on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Official Website [broken link as of April 2001]. The first word, which looks like a large "V" starting at the right end of the flag is "la," meaning "[there is] no."
Joseph McMillan
, 7 November 2000

Almost two weeks ago I saw the Taliban flag in the German TV news (ZDF, Heute-Journal, 8th August 2001, ca. 21.15 CEST). Unfortunately I had no video recorder ready. The flag was a table flag on the desk of the Afghanistan (Taliban) ambassador to Pakistan. It differed from the [former] image [by Jaume Ollé] on FOTW in that:

  • The proportions seemed to be ca. 2:3, not 1:2.
  • The Shahada was bigger: the height in the image [by Jaume Ollé] is about 30%, I guess it was about 40%.
  • The Shahada seemed to me more complex, i.e. I had the impression that there were more of the 'small' characters (if you know what I mean).

Marcus Schmöger, 21 August 2001

During the German vexillological meeting at Goslar (13/14 October 2001) Michel Lupant showed several flags he had brought from Pakistan. Three of them were Afghan flags. The first and most interesting (...) was a 'real' Taliban flag. Michel Lupant had bought it in Pakistan, so we cannot be absolutely sure that it corresponds to the flags in real use by the Taliban. However, it is quite similar to the pattern I had reported earlier from TV news. I took a photo of Michel Lupant's flag and from that I made the above image.
Marcus Schmöger
, 14 November 2001

The image and description in Baert 2001 are similar to the above image (af-1997.gif by Marcus Schmöger), but Baert 2001 states that the flag was 1:2. Writings on Baert 2001's image are a bit different, too.
Ivan Sache
, 12 April 2002

This is a Caliphat flag/Islamic State (not the Taliban flag but used by them). It is the al-LIWAA, the flag of the Islamic State, the Caliphat, a country where Islamic law is observed. Every Muslim nation can raise this flag if they become an Islamic state, and its supposed to be the flag of the worldwide Caliphat for all the Muslims if a new Emir of the Muslim Ummah (Community) rise again as an international leader for them. When a Muslim country becomes an Emirate they can raise this flag, the Taliban regime was an Emirate so they used this flag as the proper Muslim flag for the Islamic State. The flag has to be white and the Shahada always remains in Black.
Gontzal Royo, 8 April 2003


Taliban Flag 1996-1997

[Taliban Flag 1996-1997 (Afghanistan)] image by António Martins

In 1996 the Taliban regime, which had been waging a guerilla war throughout Afghanistan since the Russians left, took over the capital, Kabul. The flag (at least initially) was a plain white banner. The white flag was displayed by the Taliban's military vehicles, as could be seen in several television images.
From contributions by Ivan Sache, Dave Martucci, Jaume Ollé and Jan Oskar Engene, October 1997 - April 1998


Flag with green Shahada, probably mistaken

[Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Flag Bulletin), variant with green inscription]
by Jaume Ollé 2:3

Smith 1997k (in The Flag Bulletin no. 177, reprinted in SAVA Newsletters) said that Afghanistan now flies a white flag with the Shahada inscribed on it in green. Smith 1997k showed the new flag as 2:3 but gave no figure.
From contributions by Ivan Sache, Dave Martucci, Jaume Ollé and Jan Oskar Engene, October 1997 to April 1998

This flag was used to illustrate November 2001 articles on Afghanistan in the news magazine Der Spiegel. I wrote an e-mail to them pointing to the error; as an answer they told me, that (my translation) "from our documentation we can tell, that both versions (with green or black inscription) have been used. However, it is true, that the black inscription seems to be used more frequently now".
Marcus Schmöger
, 18 November 2001

It appears to have been used in several works which use the 'authentication' of the Flag Research Center —editors of The Flag Bulletin and hence the same original source— for instance the Shipmate 2000 chart.
Santiago Dotor
, 19 November 2001


Unidentified Flag with Coat-of-Arms

[Unidentified Flag with Coat-of-Arms (Afghanistan)] image by Marcus Scmöger

During the German vexillological meeting at Goslar (13/14 October 2001) Michel Lupant showed several flags he had brought from Pakistan. Three of them were Afghan flags. One of them was a small table flag: white with (presumably) the Taliban coat-of-arms in the center. I took a photo of the flag and from that I made a GIF. Any graphic irregularities come from the actual flag (see for instance the sabres). No idea, what the actual purpose of the flag was, sorry.
Marcus Scmöger
, 18 February 2002

Almost at the bottom of this webpage there is an image of the Taliban coat-of-arms, that was also used on flags.
Marcus Scmöger
, 27 July 2002

On 11 September 2004 at 10:25 PDT, MSNBC Investigates aired an hour long program on the 11 September 2001 events. On two different film clips, I saw a truck with a bed full of armed men with guns, and another clip with only about 3 men in it, and both trucks were flying the flag pretty much as Michel Lupant has described it.
Hubert Frick
, 13 October 2004


Unidentified Afghan flags

[Unidentified Flag (Afghanistan)] image by Santiago Dotor

[Unidentified Flag (Afghanistan)] image by Santiago Dotor

As far I know no flag of the emirate of Afghanistan could be seen in the television images of the [hijacked] Indian plane in Kandahar. But I saw several images with a plain white flag. I could also see two more flags:

  • striped horizontally green, white, red
  • white-red horizontal flag; the line between white and red was serrated, like Bahrain, but —at less [as it appeared] in television— divided exactly into two parts.

Jaume Ollé, 2 January 2000


Discussion on Islamic Emirate

Andrew Rogers asked whether Islamic Emirate was not redundant. There may not be any non-Islamic emirates in a cultural sense, but that is not the point. When a modern nation state calls itself Islamic it means that the Sharia is the law. Pakistan on its founding was the first such state. Revolutionary Iran and much Islamic fundamentalism since then have also striven for this ideal. But the Sharia is ill-suited to modern political and economic organization, so real implementation of the ideal is almost impossible. Even conservative Saudi Arabia, guardian of the most holy places, does not pretend to be an Islamic state in name. An Islamic state today is akin to John Calvin's Geneva, a theocratic state par excellence — there is a big difference between a theocratic state and one that is culturally Christian or even religiously so.
T. F. Mills
, 28 October 1997

Although Emir is a term from the Muslim political world, in theory it is not a religious designation. In fact, terms like Emir, Sultan, and Malik (king) were first used when the political power of the Caliphs were on the wane — they were meant to serve as a title of political authority without claiming to supplant the Caliphs' religious authority. This is ironic considering the use that the Taliban is putting it to.
Joshua Fruhlinger
, 28 October 1997