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Afghanistan December 1992 - September 1996

Islamic State of Afghanistan | flag used 1996-2001 by the 'Northern Alliance'

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by ian macdonald
Keywords: islamic state of afghanistan | de afghanistan islami dawlat | mihrab (yellow) | minbar (yellow) | mosque (yellow) | wreath: wheat (yellow) | text: arabic (yellow) | allahu akbar | takbir | shahada | text: arabic (yellow) |
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[Afghanistan Dec.1992-Sep.1996] 1:2 image by Jaume Ollé
Flag and coat-of-arms adopted 2nd December 1992

See also:


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


Three horizontal stripes of green, white, black with the coat of arms over all in the centre. The arms are based on previous pre-Communist models and contain a representation of a mosque within a wreath of wheat-ears. Above the wreath is the shahada, the Moslem confession of faith, and also (in very small letters) the slogan Allahu Aqbar (God is Great). Beneath is the date 1371 in the Islamic calendar (=1992 AD) and the name Islamic State of Afghanistan all in gold. Around all this are two curved sabres. The flag dates from 2 December 1992. (...) Old versions of the flag tend to linger on: at the United Nations HQ which I visited in 1992 they still had the pre-1987 flag flying.
William Crampton
, ca. 1996

What is not only the heritage of communism, but is also a reminder of the legend that the first Aryan king Yama, and the first Afghani king Ahmed-shah were crowned with it.
Željko Heimer
, 17 February 1996

Devereux 1998 says, "The depicted flag was adopted in December 1992 to reflect the establishment of the Islamic state. The green stripe represents Islam, the white stripe purity, and the black the country's dark past."
Jarig Bakker
, 20 November 2000

According to Baert 2001, on 2 December 1992 was adopted a new flag, which kept the stripes of the former flag but used a new emblem in the middle. The image and description in Baert 2001 are similar to the one above.
Ivan Sache
, 12 April 2002 shows an Afghan flag used from 1989 to 1992, similar to the flags later used, probably an unofficial one or only used by one of the factions of the civil war.
Markus Wiehler, 28 March 2010

Date on Flag

Beneath [the wreath] is the date 1371 in the Islamic calendar (=1992 CE).
William Crampton
, ca. 1996

It has been argued that year 1371 does not correspond with 1992 CE (but 1950 CE) in the Arab Islamic calendar. This is a misunderstanding of the solar Islamic (hijri shamsi) as opposed to the Arab lunar Islamic (hijri qamari) calendars.

The year 1371 is solar Islamic and not the Arab lunar Islamic. Because Afghanistan is a non-Arab country it follows the solar calendar and not the lunar one. Iran, Tajikistan, and the like also follow a solar calendar, even though they are Islamic countries. I hope this clears up the discrepancy. The year 1371 (hijri shamsi) does refer to 1992 (Christian era).
Siena Ali Heravi
, 3 January 2001

According to this press report, Afghanistan used the Arab lunar calendar under the Taliban regime from 1999 until 2002:

Afghanistan re-adopts solar calendar

The leader of the Afghan interim government, Hamid Karzai, has issued a decree replacing the lunar calendar with the traditional Afghan solar calendar.

The solar calendar was used in Afghanistan until 1999 when it was changed by the Taliban authorities who wanted the country to adopt the system used in Saudi Arabia.

The change means the year switches from 1423 to 1381, dating from the time of the Prophet Mohammad.

Jan Zrzavy, 5 February 2002

Hanging flag with colours in reverse order

[Hanging 1992 flag with colours in reverse order (Afghanistan)] image by Marcus Schmöger

During the November-December 2001 war there were some reports of "upside-down" flags of the Afghanistan "Northern Alliance" (or Islamic State of Afghanistan, or Rabbani government), i.e. black-white-green instead of green-white-black. In my opinion, too many different reports for just being a mistaken display of colours:

  • The TV news of 14 November 2001 showed a T-54 tank with a black-white-green flag (without coat-of-arms, about 2:3).
  • The front page of the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 6 November 2001 showed a troop parade for President Rabbani with an undefaced flag (rather a colour with golden fringe), which was black-white-green.
  • Michel Lupant brought a hanging flag of the Northern Alliance from Pakistan to the German vexillological meeting at Goslar in October 2001, which was black-white-green. The coat-of-arms was black (not gold) and differs somewhat from the one we know (for instance the one in Album des Pavillons 2000).

Marcus Schmöger, 14 November 2001

As the 'Northern Alliance' (in fact, the recognized government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan) uses the Afghani national flag, it seems probable to me that the large variability is reminiscent of the same variability in 1990's. There were numerous variations of the national flags, including various order of stripes, various patterns and colors of inscriptions etc. Evidently, the usage of flags has not been unified during the war, so I do not believe that there are any important political roots of the unstable vexillology in Afghanistan.
Jan Zrzavy
, 17 November 2001

Unconfirmed variant

[Afghanistan 1991-1992 variant] image located by Markus Wiehler, 15 August 2010

Wikipedia has this flag:,_1991-92.gif. The flag also has no source, so I contacted the uploader. The Polish uploader, Stoigniew did not remember a source. Because I also did not find a source, I posted a deletion request. (I presume that someone combined the two 1992 flags by mistake, or it is another variant of those flags).
Markus Wiehler, 15 August 2010