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Epitaph for Syria

This came out of me in April 2014 in response to a prompt at a writer’s meetup. The “bear and falcon” in the third line are Russia and Iran. ISIS exists and is sustained in large part due to Putin’s intervention, early in the rebellion, to preserve Assad’s rule. The deployment of Russian forces to sustain Assad, though coupled with a call to arms against ISIS, is another manifestation of Putin’s pathetic reliance upon military force to command respect from the world. My sense is that, as in the eastern districts of Ukraine (where Russia has its own refugee crisis, largely hidden from Western media), Russian intervention will serve only to extend suffering.

I pray that President Obama will deliver him a fitting rebuke when they meet at the UN next week.

Land of sands and cypress, olives and figs,
Gnawed by neighbors from heights to river.
Convenient playmates of bear and falcon,
Proud kings feared their sons and daughters:
Your people breathed freely and fell silent.
Oh, Syria, your beauty has become dust.
Your streets are still, where voices called for prayer.
May Allah and God meet in the marketplace,
And grant your wanderers peace.

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