Russian President Vladimir Putin chose an auspicious time to visit Syria. The Russia strongman traveled to Damascus on Tuesday as part of what was described as a “so-called surprise visit.” It came in the aftermath of the American hit on Iranian terror commander Qassem Soleimani and the Iranian retaliation by firing fifteen ballistic missiles into an Iraqi military base near Baghdad where American forces are billeted. Putin’s travel was not limited to Syria. He also plans to visit Turkey where relations with the United States are also troubled. During his time in Syria, the Russian president me with his colleague in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad. Despite his intense role in the Syrian civil war as Assad’s patron and the man responsible for keeping the Syrian president in power, this is the first time Putin is in Damascus since the war broke out nine years ago. Ostensibly, the Putin visit was to greet Russian military on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas.