Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (R) during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 20, 2015. Assad, on his first foreign visit since Syria’s war broke out, told his main backer and counterpart Putin in Moscow that Russia’s campaign in Syria has helped contain terrorism and protect the Assad government from groups that have more in common with ISIS than they do peace and love Syrian moderates.  (Photo by  ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrians want Russian multinationals to help rebuild the country, once (and if) the smoke clears. At least this is the view from Russian politicians with skin in the game.
“(Syrian leader Bashar) Assad specifically stated that when rebuilding Syria the Syrian people will rely on Russia’s help. He asked (Russian oil) companies to cooperate with Syria,” Russian Communist Party member Alexander Yushchenko told RIA Novosti news wire on Sunday.

Syria is not a big oil and gas player in the Middle East. Russia’s interest in the country may have as much to do with protecting its only Mediterranean naval port in the country as it does pounding the smithereens out of jihadis, both of the ISIS variety and of the anti-Assad ilk, whom have been known to intermingle with the terrorist group. Most Russian companies in Syria operate in the oil and gas space, like publicly traded firms Tatneft and pipeline product maker TMK. Russian airline Aeroflot also has a hub there, but most flights have been grounded because of the ongoing civil war in the country.

Russia’s involvement in Syria surprised Washington when it came late last month. But now, both the U.S. and Russian military are running separate bombing missions of ISIS strongholds in Syria. And the U.S. has suspended tactical and weapons support of the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army following word that many of these fighters have jumped ship for ISIS, as Vladimir Putin warned.

The U.S. is hell-bent on kicking Assad to the curb, in Washington’s cookie-cutter Middle Eastern foreign policy of regime change. Assad, speaking through the state run Russian media, allegedly said he would allow for democratic elections or even resign if it would help Syria heal. That would give someone the chance to challenge Assad for the first time ever. This may very well be lip service, in order to show the West that Russia has Assad eating out of the palm of their hands.

Assad met with Putin in Moscow last week to discuss the possibility of the Syrian government sitting down with so-called moderate opposition leaders; read: non-jihadis who will go Osama bin Laden on the West once in power.

While the Syria crisis has entangled Russian in U.S. foreign affairs, it does not threaten Russian sanctions. Sanctions on Russia stem from the 2014 annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. The removal of sanctions is dependent on successful adherence of the Minsk II Accord, agreed upon by Ukraine and Russia, to put an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine and hold elections that will most definitely go in Russia’s favor. Crimea is not part of the Minsk agreement, meaning that the E.U. will likely lift sanctions on the Russian economy if the accord is held lock tight, regardless of Crimea and surely regardless to the situation in Syria at this time.
Syrian poet Mohja Kahf and poet Marvin X. Both poets
have written on the Syrian quagmire. Marvin's late son
Darrel (Abdul El Muhajir) won a Fulbright fellowship to
study at the University of Damascus. He told his father about
the dire conditions in Syria while studying there. The secret
police interrogated him frequently; they wanted to know why
he was swimming at the American embassy and handing around
those "filthy Palestinians." Abdul graduated in Arabic and Middle
Eastern literature from the University of California, Berkeley. He
did post graduate work at Harvard. He suffered mani-depression and
took his own life in 2002. Maybe he could have solved the Syrian conundrum.
Marvin X says, "Along with fellow poet Mohja Kahf, we hope the Syrian
suffering will end soon with a more just and democratic regime taking power, 
regime that will respect the consent of the governed. For sure, the suffering of the
Syrian people will continue for some time no matter if President Assad resigns. ISIS
controls much of the country and with all the geo-political players jockeying for power,
who knows how long the bleeding shall continue, even if Assad resigns. Final question, do we want another Libya? Because of my son's sojourn in Syria, I have a special connection to this wretched land so full of Biblical history. I am happy my beloved son reported his experience in Syria. He told of how Africans are treated in the land. But Africans are treated the same all over the world. My friend Minister Farrakhan once said, 'Wherever I went around the world, the Black man was on the bottom, whether in Muslim countries, Christian countries, Communist countries, Socialist countryies, Democratic countries, he was on the bottom.' Sister Cynthia Mckinney informed us when she visited Israel, the jails were full of Africans!"

Two Poems for Syria by Marvin X and Mohja Kahf

Oh, Mohja
how much water can run from rivers to sea
how much blood can soak the earth
the guns of tyrants know no end
a people awakened are bigger than bullets
there is no sleep in their eyes
no more stunted backs and fear of broken limbs
even men, women and children are humble with sacrifice
the old the young play their roles
with smiles they endure torture chambers
with laughs they submit to rape and mutilations
there is no victory for oppressors
whose days are numbered
as the clock ticks as the sun rises
let the people continue til victory
surely they smell it on their hands
taste it on lips
believe it in their hearts
know it in their minds
no more backwardness no fear
let there be resistance til victory.
--Marvin X/El Muhajir

Syrian poet/professor Dr. Mohja Kahf

Oh Marvin, how much blood can soak the earth?

The angels asked, “will you create a species who will shed blood

and overrun the earth with evil?” 

And it turns out “rivers of blood” is no metaphor: 

see the stones of narrow alleys in Duma

shiny with blood hissing from humans? Dark

and dazzling, it keeps pouring and pumping

from the inexhaustible soft flesh of Syrians,

and neither regime cluster bombs from the air,

nor rebel car bombs on the ground,

ask them their names before they die. 

They are mowed down like wheat harvested by machine,

and every stalk has seven ears, and every ear a hundred grains.

They bleed like irrigation canals into the earth.

Even one little girl in Idlib with a carotid artery cut

becomes a river of blood. Who knew she could be a river 

running all the way over the ocean, to you,

draining me of my heart? And God said to the angels, 

“I know what you know not.” But right now,
the angels seem right. Cut the coyness, God;

learn the names of all the Syrians.

See what your species has done.

--Mohja Kahf