For the second time in six weeks, fellow world leaders have been caught on video appearing to laugh and joke at the expense of President Donald Trump. This time, however, one of those leaders was Vladimir Putin, the Russian president about whom Trump has frequently spoken in glowing terms of admiration. Per the Kremlin, Putin even phoned Trump in Florida shortly after Christmas to discuss “mutual interests” such as “combating terrorism.” The White House did not initially reveal the conversation between Putin and Trump.
The video, taken during Putin’s previously unannounced visit to Syria last week, showed the Russian leader and Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad in a lighthearted conversation in which Assad suggests that Trump visit Damascus, according to a translation published by the political site Axios.
“If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too,” Assad say to Putin.
This is apparently a reference to the Biblical story of Apostle Paul, who was (according to the story) a Roman assassin stricken by visions that caused him to immediately convert to the then-fledgling religion of Christianity. His conversion, in the Bible tale, happened on “the road to Damascus.”
Putin appeared to enjoy Assad’s joke, responding, “It will be repaired… invite him. He will come.”
Асад о дороге в Дамаск, на которой стал христианином апостол Павел: Если Трамп по этой дороге проедет, сразу станет с ним все нормально.
Путин: Пригласите его, он приедет.
Асад: Я готов.
Путин: Я ему передам pic.twitter.com/Gkkvd0KR1J
— Дмитрий Смирнов (@dimsmirnov175) January 12, 2020
When Assad then says that he is ready to receive Trump in Damascus, a smiling Putin replies, “I will tell him.”
Since 2011, Syria has been perhaps the most violent and dangerous country in the world. When protests against Assad in 2011 were met with force by the government regime, the demonstrations erupted into a full-scale civil war that has so far killed an estimated 400,000 Syrians, according to a CNN report.
The video of Putin and Assad engaged in lighthearted banter seemingly at Trump’s expense was shot inside the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus. The video was aired on the Russian state-run TV network Russia-1, according to The Times of Israel, a news source in Syria’s neighboring country of Israel, which itself has fought three major wars against Syria, as well as numerous violent border skirmishes.
The al-Assad family has ruled Syria since 1970. Following the 30-year reign of Hafez al-Assad, his son Bashar al-Assad became president in 2000.
The video of Putin and Assad apparently enjoying a laugh at Trump’s expense emerged about six weeks after a video surfaced at the NATO summit meeting in the United Kingdom on October 3. In that video, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron are seen laughing at Trump’s tardy arrival to NATO events, due to his penchant for holding lengthy, off-the-cuff press conferences.