“The Alawite Tide Has Exploded” – A “Secular” Song For a “Secular” Regime?

When bearing in mind the allegedly “secular” nature of Assad’s regime it might be worth bearing in mind that the regime has utilised Alawi and Shi’a sectarianism for decades. Assad’s own family hails from the Alawite sect, in an attempt to shore up the regime’s power base, and give it a reliable supply of cannon fodder from the minorities, fearful of repression should the regime fall.

This it has done with considerable success; frightening Alawites everywhere into believing that Sunni terrorists will somehow slaughter them wholesale if it falls. In many Alawite villages, practically every young man has joined regime militias. Although they ostensibly have a secular, inclusive mentality, these groups are actually vicious Alawite militias, some of which genuinely believe they are fighting an existential battle. Most prominent are militias such as the National Defence Force or the Syrian Resistance.

Despite the shilling (ironically, mainly from westerners who have lived in democratic societies all their lives) for such a sectarian regime on the basis of it being “secular”, the regime is viciously sectarian in terms of propaganda as well as in the armed forces. The open sectarianism makes their support for the regime even more unbelievable, given that regime sectarianism is conspicuously posted all over the internet on pro-regime social media.

Here’s a translation via my Syrian friend Omar of a pro-Assad song by now-infamous Hezbollah singer Ali Barakat in support of Assad. It also features Ali Faraj, a lesser-known singer. The lyrics were written by Fares Saleh.

The title of the song, revealingly, is: al-Mod al-Alawi Tfajer, which translates as simply: “The Alawite Tide Has Exploded”.

*Chorus*

Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali…(1)

It is a finest land: the mother of Khaybar(2),
and God’s men are invincible.
No single Salafi nor Wahhabi (3) will be safe…
The tide of Alawites has exploded!

We will crush the dens of disbelievers (Sunnis),
the language of the armed men is Abbasi.(4)
Your revolution has become shreds,(5)
and the Umayyad dream is over now!(6)

Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali…

It is a finest land: the mother of Khaybar,
and God’s men are invincible.
No single Salafi nor Wahhabi will be safe…
The tide of Alawites has exploded!

Zaynab is the sister of the father of free people,(7)
in her tomb and under our eyes she stays up all night, every night.(8)
Soldiers of al-Nusra march forward,
we will cut you to pieces!

Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali…

It is a finest land: the mother of Khaybar
and God’s men are invincible.
No single Salafi nor Wahhabi will be safe…
The tide of Alawites has exploded!

Oh lion of our people (meaning Assad) go higher in “glory”,(9)
you are our leader; hence we will never lose.
Oh Sham (Levant) Damascus, talk about our glories,
oh my people, get ready for the victory!

Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali…

*Repeat chorus*

We are the heroes of bloody wars,
We are like the Quran but recited at the slaughterhouse!(10)
We are your guardians oh Zainab,
We are your lion-cubs oh Haidar!

*Repeat chorus*

The bastards will never rule us,
the Alawi expansion has exploded!
Zainab will not be raped again,
I swear by the blood and the slaughterhouse!

*Repeat Chorus*

The bastards will never rule us,
the Alawi expansion has exploded!
Zainab will not be raped again,
I swear by the blood and the slaughterhouse!

*Repeat chorus*

The Alawi expansion has exploded…
Words: Fares Saleh
Lyrics: Ali Barakat
Arrangement and recording: Mohamed Alai
Performance: Ali Barakat and Ali Faraj.

(1) ‘Ali’ is a reference to Ali Ibn Abi Talib the cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, revered in Shi’ism as the first imam after Muhammad.

(2) “Khaybar” refers to the famous battle in which the Prophet Muhammad and his followers (while outnumbered) defeated a Jewish army that had betrayed the Muslims.

(3) Assad/Hezbollah/Iran supporters frequently refer to all their opponents as being Wahhabist or Salafist Muslims (with negative connotations, implying that they are extremists) to justify wiping out the anti-regime opposition.

(4) A reference to Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Ali, son of Ali, another revered figure in Shi’a Islam. When reference is made to the language of the pro-Assad men as “Abbasi”, this is also very sectarian, Barakat is openly claiming they are a Shi’a army. Since Sunnis are 74% of the population, he refers to their homes and settlements “dens of kafirs” (unbelievers), illustrating how the Alawite minority has been mobilised to slaughter the majority. Alawites/Shi’ites and others make up some 16% of the Syrian population, and other minorities make up 10%.

(5) They openly admit that there is a revolution ongoing in Syria against the Assad regime, yet sneer that the regime is ripping it (the Syrian people) to “shreds”.

(6) The “Umayyad dream” is a reference to the caliphate of the Umayyads, which lasted between June 9, 746 – July, 750. It’s another way of saying that the Sunni dream is over; Twlever Shi’ites have historically loathed the Umayyads. Twelver Shi’a extremists often refer to Sunnis as “descendants of the Umayyads” to justify slaughtering them.

(7) This refers to Zainab Bint Ali, the daughter of Ali. She was taken captive by the Yazid army after the battle of Karbala, a battle in which Imam Hussain (the son of Ali) and many of his followers were slain after refusing to surrender to Yazid (Hussain perceived him as unjust), an event which resulted in the schism from which Shi’a Islam emerged. She was disgraced by being forced to march unveiled, her suffering has been exploited by Iranian regime propaganda as a justification for attacking the anti-regime opposition.

(8) Shi’ite extremists often invoke these names to justify their actions, calling out “Oh Zainab!” They see themselves as avenging the deaths of their revered figures. Many pro-Assad Shi’a militia groups have been set up in Syria *composed mostly of foreign fighters) claiming to be defending Zainab’s shrine from attacks. However this is a pretext, such groups are fighting far away from the shrines. Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas is the best example of such a group. Barakat also made a tribute to their brigade, heavily invoking Zainab’s name to justify the attack on Syria’s Sunnis.

(9) Assad is portrayed as a “lion” of Shi’a Islam (and not as a leader of a united Syria of all sects and faiths) in an attempt to shore up his power base among the Shi’a/Alawite minorities. With Iran’s help, Assad has increasingly been trying to integrate the Alawites into the 12er Shi’a camp to further consolidate his rule. Iranian efforts to do this have gone on for some time.

(10) In the context of Syria, this line needs no explanation.

Also, note the iconography used in the video – Assad, decked out in fascist attire, is plastered alongside the Ba’athist flag. Yet the the flag of the Hezbollah also flies. Images of Imam Ali with his famous sword zulfiqar are also used. Images of lions appear (‘Assad’ means ‘lion’ in Arabic) and regime fighters step on the pre-Ba’athist Syrian flag.

The imagery is highly charged with hatred, but also confused. Assad’s supporters don’t seem to realise the absurd nature of the propaganda – they eulogise Assad as a leader who “protects” minorities, yet openly portray him as a Shi’a/Alawite hero. They utilise ‘secular’ imagery (e.g. the Ba’athist flag) alongside Twelver Shi’a symbols, portraying Assad as the leader of Syria, yet as only leading a fraction of the population. The message is an attempt at cohesion, yet makes little sense.

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