Putin in Bab al-Hara

27 November 2015

In response to being unable to grasp their new political reality, Syrians have transformed the Russian intervention, personified in the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, into a comedic affair on social media. Releasing their frustrations at his supporters, his actions, and the military intervention, Syrians invent fictional worlds to deal with the harsh reality of this intervention which has left dozens of Syrians dead.

Abu Natasha in Bab al-Hara

The Russian president Vladimir Putin has mostly been on the receiving end of this comedic treatment. The irony is that Russian media, for the past few years, has been portraying Putin as an invincible man, who has a lot of hobbies and partakes in professional sports. Syrians have taken this caricature of him and transformed him into “Abu al-Nar” in the popular Ramadan series Bab al-Hara. The painter, Ahmed Falah, drew Putin in traditional Levantine clothes as he reimagined an iconic scene with Putin threatening someone with a TOW rocket as opposed to a knife.

Putin in traditional Levantine clothes/Ahmad Falah
Putin in traditional Levantine clothes/Ahmad Falah

Abu Ali Putin

Pages on Facebook and Twitter have also taken to calling Putin, “Abu Ali Putin,” attributing to Putin the kunya or nom de guerre preferred by many in the regime army, Abu Ali. This has also been used to emasculate Bashar al-Assad and mock his lack of power in the country; a post on Facebook highlighted this perfectly, saying “If nominated, Abu Ali Putin would beat Bashar al-Assad for governor of Latakia.”

Putin recently celebrated his 63rd birthday on October 7, 2015, just a few days following Russian military intervention in Syria. It is said he played hockey with a few of his favorite government officials. This made him a symbol of ridicule on Twitter. Hussein al-Saad, on his Twitter account, posted satirical pictures mocking Putin.


These jokes were not limited to the ordinary denizens of social media; Walid Jumblatt, on his twitter account, wrote: “Your beloved, elected candidate Hafez Vladimir” and shared a picture that was mash-up of Assad and Putin’s faces.

Tsar Putin

Besides sports and military tournaments, Putin has also been turned into a Christian symbol following the blessing of military intervention by the Russian Orthodox Church. Many have felt that this intervention is meant to protect the Christian minorities in the MIddle East, and Putin has thus been transformed from a secular man of the Soviet Union into a Christian Tsar

Labbayk, Oh Slave of the Prince

After Sheikh Ma’amoun Rahmeh delivered a sermon from the steps of the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus, praising Putin and praying for his victory and for God to “guide his gun straight”, a campaign was launched to endorse President Putin, the believer.

Tweet reading: “Labbayka O Putin, Labbayk. Our Iraq is in your hands and Syria remains yours forever. The Arabs are angered on your behalf”

The campaign was thoroughly ridiculed on social media by anti-regime activists, who aptly nicknamed Putin: Abu al-Teen (father of figs).

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad