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New Iraq flag: Designer speaks out

The new design over an old Iraqi flag.
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The man who designed Iraq's new national flag has told CNN he wanted to create a "simple and powerful" design.

The flag, which was unveiled by Iraqi leaders this week, is intended to be a temporary replacement for the red, black and green banner that flew under ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

The new design comprises two blue stripes along the bottom, with a yellow stripe between them, and a crescent above them in a white field.

Its designer, UK-based Rifat al-Chadirchi, said: "It must be a powerful simple design. Something like the Canadian flag. Simple, straightforward very strong statement.

"That's what I tried to do. Just three lines and a crescent. Now, the background is white. It is peace, reconciliation and a new era."

The parallel blue lines represent the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- and by extension Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Arabs, since the river basin is their heartland

The yellow line represents the Kurds, while the crescent is a symbol of Islam.

Al-Chadirchi said the new flag represents the "ancient, the Islamic, and modernity."

He said the old flag was "graphically a very bad design" because it combined rectangles and trapezoids. "A flag must never use irregular form," he added.

The stripes and crescent on the new flag are a considerably darker shade of blue than an earlier version published in an Iraqi newspaper, which showed the stripes as being light blue.

Many said the light blue stripes were reminiscent of the light blue bands on the Israeli flag.

The former Iraqi flag was designed after the February 1963 coup that brought the now-outlawed Baath Party to power. Its three green stars represented then the would-be unity between Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

Saddam added the words "Allahu Akbar" shortly before the 1991 Gulf War.

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