Liwa (Arabic)

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Liwa, or Liwā’ (Arabic: لواء‎), is an Arabic term meaning ensign, or banner. The word has developed various other meanings in Arabic:

  • a banner, in all senses (flag, advertising banner, election publicity banner, etc.)[1]
  • a district;[2] see also: banner (country subdivision)
  • a level of military unit with its own ensign, now used as the equivalent to brigade[3]
  • an officer commanding a number of liwa units, now equivalent to a major general[4]

Liwa was used interchangeably with the Turkish term "Sanjak" in the time of the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of the empire, the term was used in the Arab countries formerly under Ottoman rule. It was gradually replaced by other terms like qadaa and mintaqa and is now defunct. It is only used occasionally in Syria to refer to the Hatay Province, ceded by the French mandate of Syria to Turkey in 1939, at which time was known as Liwa' Iskenderun.


  1. ^ Hillenbrand, Carole (2000). The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415929141.
  2. ^ Foreign Maps. Department of the Army. 1956.
  3. ^ Flint, Julie; (Organization), Human Rights Watch (2004). Darfur Destroyed: Ethnic Cleansing by Government and Militia Forces in Western Sudan. Human Rights Watch.
  4. ^ Al-Marashi, Ibrahim; Salama, Sammy (2001-12-13). Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History. Routledge. ISBN 9781134145638.