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Libya, 1969-1972

Last modified: 2011-10-15 by ian macdonald
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The 1969-1972 flag

] image by Martin Grieve, 25 September 2011

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The 1969-1972 flag

On 01 Sep 1969, a swift and bloodless coup toppled the Libyan monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. The coup passed off with only a handful of shots being fired. The military junta's first action was to arrest the army chief of staff and the head of security. King Idris, who had been suffering poor health, went to Greece. Thousands took to the streets to demonstrate their support for the revolution. At the time, the coup was widely welcomed as an Arab nationalist reaction to the humiliating defeat of the Arab armies in the Six Day War with Israel in 1967 and to what were seen as the pro-Western policies and corruption of the monarchy.

On 08 Sep the new cabinet was announced. The commander in chief of the armed forces was named as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, 27. Colonel Gaddafi took the title of prime minister in January 1970. Initially he pursued a policy of Arab unity -  proposing a series of mergers and federations with neighbouring countries. n accord with its objectives of bringing Libya into line with contemporary Arab nationalist thought and action, it became necessary to create new national symbols to embody the ideals of the revolution, including Arab unity, anti-colonialism, and socialism.

The new flag adopted on 07 Nov 1969 consisted of three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), white, and black in the proportions of 1 : 2. At that time, and in the event that Libya would formally unite with other Arab nations, it was assumed that a green star would be added for each on the white stripe, similar to the flag of the United Arab Republic and other Arab states. This idea never was to materialise, and Libya would undergo yet another change of national flag in 1972.

Source: Wikipedia (, “Flags and Arms through the World” by Whitney Smith (1980),
Flag Bulletin Vol XVI:6, 1977

Martin Grieve, 25 September 2011