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Western Sahara

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

Last modified: 2002-09-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: western sahara | sahara | morocco | sahrawi arab democratic republic | sadr | crescent | panarab colors | polisario |
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[Flag of Western Sahara] by Mark Sensen
Flag adopted 27 February 1976, state emblem adopted 1976, modified June 1991 (by the removal of hammer).

See also:

Significance of the Flag

The flag (designed by the Frente Polisario) is inverted in nature. The black (on top) represents death, the green represents life, the white represents peace,  When the POLISARIO gain independence after a referendum and are recognized as a "true country" the green will go on top and the black will go to the bottom.

Brent Overton, 24 January 2000

History of the Western Sahara

When the Spanish pulled out of this territory in 1976, it was partitioned between Morocco, which took the larger part, and Mauritania. Local nationalists of the POLISARIO movement proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on 27 February 1976.

The flag of the SADR follows the pan-Arab colours and is similar to the PLO flag (now the flag of the Palestine Authority, ed.), with the addition of a crescent and star on the white stripe.

POLISARIO was originally closely aligned with the Algerian regime. So it is quite likely that the SADR flag's star and crescent would be like that of the Algerian flag which would certainly be more like the one you describe.
Stuart Notholt, 9 February 1996

I vaguely remember a flag for the Spanish possessions in Northern Africa: identical in design to the Moroccan flag, but colours white pentagram on dark green (or was that the flag of the Free City of Tangier?).
Harald Müller, 12 February 1996

The POLISARIO flag and the SADR flag are the same. Three movements exist in the country: one by the pro-Moroccan sheiks (10%), another by the pro-Ould Dada (Mauritania) people (0.1%), both with wellknown flags. The third was the Pro-Algerian Polisario (90%). When Polisario proclaimed the SADR their own flag was hoisted.
Jaume Ollé, 23 August 1998

Before Spanish Sahara was a unified province it was divided in two provinces, the Saguiat el-Hamra (the SA of poliSArio... and the EH of the ISO country code) and Rio de Oro (the RIO). The POLI means POr la LIbercaion (for the liberation).  Spanish Sahara was also known as Spanish West Africa, but that one included other bits like Ifni (to Morocco in 1969), Cape Juby (the southernmost part of Morocco not including WS) and La Aguera.
JF Blanc, 16 November 1999

The Polisario Flag was at first a party flag. When Spanish troops yielded control of the country to the Morroco ("Marcha verde") when Franco was near the death, Polisario proclaimed the SADR on 27 February and hoisted same flag (like FLNA and Algeria). At that time the SADR would be a single party country and logically the identification between party symbol and state symbol was total. More than half of Africa (and many others countries in the world) recognized SADR and it was accepted in the African Union Organization.  The SADR-POLISARIO flag was very popular and no change was ever proposed.
The flag with a map of the Western Sahara in the center is (I believe) fictional.
Jaume Ollé , 20 November 1999

The United Nations now seem to accept a new plan concerning the political future of Western Sahara. Since Morocco and POLISARIO have not been able to reach an accord on a self-determination referendum (the problem is who is allowed to vote in this predominantly nomadic region), UN will prefer to postpone the decision, form an autonomous region within Morocco, and (maybe) organize the referendum in five years.
Jan Zrzavy, 26 June 2001

Reverse of the Flag

I saw a Western Sahara flag that had the crescent and star only on [what we might at first call] the reverse. Of course this may be interpreted as:
- the flag was hoisted upside down; or
- the flag was a sinister-hoist version (which I guess is the correct one, this being an Arab country), whereby the "main" side is what is considered the reverse in western countries.
Santiago Dotor, 7 September 2000

"Obverse" means "main side" (and thus "reverse" means "secondary side"), usually the side shown in construction sheets and other flag depictions, the side where inscriptions or emblems are applied (when these are applied on one side only), the side
turned outwards when the flag is arranged for indoor limp display, etc.  Usually, in left to right cultures the obverse is the side with the hoist at the viewer's left hand ("dexter hoisted"), and in right to left cultures the obverse is the side with the hoist at the viewer's right hand ("sinister hoisted").

This being so, and considering that the flag spotted by Santiago looked like this

o________    ________o
|\_______|  |_______/|
| )______|  |__*)__( |
|/_______|  |_______\|
|                    |
|                    |
then the flag is indeed sinister hoisted and has a different reverse (no emblem). The obverse is the side showing the emblem -- because it shows the emblem.
António Martins, 7 September 2000

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