Tribes with Flags

"Tribes With Flags" is part of a phrase attributed to Tahseen Bashir, an Egyptian diplomat (April 1925 – June 11, 2002). Regarding his belief in the centrality of Egypt within the Middle East he opined: "Egypt is the only nation-state in the Arab world; the rest are just tribes with flags".[1]

Another version of Mr. Bashir’s ‘flag’ quip is:

'When the chips are down, there is only one real place in the entire area – Egypt', a Cairo diplomat once declared. 'All the rest – forgive me – are tribes with flags'.[2]

Two book titles based on this quote are Tribes With Flags: A Dangerous Passage Through the Chaos of the Middle East (Apr. 1990) and Tribes With Flags: A Journey Curtailed (1992), both by Charles Glass.


  1. ^ "Tahseen Bashir, Urbane Egyptian Diplomat, Dies at 77" , Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times newspaper, June 14, 2002.
  2. ^ Baghdad Without A Map (Jan. 1992) by Tony Horwitz, p. 51.