In yet another report that details sketchy ties between Russia and President Donald Trump's aides, it has emerged Blackwater founder Erik Prince met with a Russian representative to President Vladimir Putin to set up a “back-channel” between Trump and Russia.
The Washington Post reports that just days before Trump’s inauguration, the alleged secret meeting was brokered by officials with the United Arab Emirates in the Seychelles islands to encourage Russia to stop backing Iran, a long-time Kremlin ally.
As per the information given to the Post by a former Obama administration intelligence official, "separating Russia from Iran was a common theme" during a meeting with the Trump team.
This isn’t a surprise considering how Trump has publicly expressed his willingness to build diplomatic relations with Moscow, but has repeatedly shown reluctance to do so with Tehran. He is also a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
In fact, the very first major step that General Michael Flynn took during his brief tenure as Trump’s national security adviser was to put Iran on notice over a missile test the Trump administration was never able to prove violated any United Nations resolutions.
As for the UAE’s involvement in the talks set up by Prince, the Persian Gulf country is a staunch diplomatic and military ally of Saudi Arabia, and therefore sees Iran as a regional rival.
Prince allegedly contacted Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, after Zayed, despite having no official role in Trump’s transition team. He acted, as the Post puts it, as an “unofficial surrogate for the president-elect.”
However, Prince, whose mercenary firm is infamous for massacring 17 people in Baghdad in 2007, has always been close to the Trump campaign, and later transition team, in an unofficial capacity.
The Intercept reported in January Prince had “been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments.” Meanwhile, The Post states the Blackwater boss also donated “$250,000 to the Trump campaign.” Also, he is the brother of Trump’s highly unqualified Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.