Monday, May 2, 2011

History and postage stamps of the United Arab Republic (UAR)

Many would not know now that there once existed a union between the Egypt and Syria known as the United Arab Republic for a brief period between 1958 to 1961. Syria quit the UAR in 1961, while Egypt continued to be officially part of UAR until 1971, when the union finally ceased to exist.

The UAR adopted a flag based on the Arab Liberation Flag of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, but with two stars to represent the two parts. This continues to be the flag of Syria. In 1963, Iraq adopted a flag that was similar but with three stars, representing the hope that Iraq would join the UAR. The current flags of Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen are also based on Arab Liberation Flag of horizontal red, white, and black bands.

The need to form a union between Egypt and Syria stemmed from the vulnerabilities of the communist uprising in Syria and Syria sought help from Egypt to curb the communist rise in the country and offered to form a union with Syria. Although the then Egyptian president Gemal Abdul Nasser resisted formation of such a union, Nasser opted for a total merger in early 1958. Nasser became UAR’s first president (and the last too as the union died its own death after three years).

The union never ran smoothly for many reasons, and Nasser was unable to run it efficiently and carry the Syrians along with him. On September 28th 1961, a group of military officers staged a coup and announced Syria’s independence from the UAR. Although Nasser did not vocally objected to the Syrian exodus from the union, he continued to talk of unity among Arab countries till UAR finally came to its logical abolishment in 1971 and Egypt became Arab Republic of Egypt.

From 1958 till 1971, the UAR stamps were used by both Syria and Egypt (though Syria reverted to Syrian stamps in 1961 after it quit the union). The above stamps of UAR from my collection are from this period.