Did Erik Prince do some Backchannel Diplomacy for Trump?

Apr 4, 2017

The United Arab Emirates held a secret meeting on January 11 between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and an informal representative of V. Putin, according to MSN.com

“The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would likely require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions. Zayed met twice with Putin in 2016, according to Western officials, and urged the Russian leader to work more closely with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia — an effort to isolate Iran.

“Steven Simon, a National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama White House, said: “The idea of using business cutouts, or individuals perceived to be close political leaders, as a tool of diplomacy is as old as the hills. These unofficial channels are desirable precisely because they are deniable; ideas can be tested without the risk of failure.”

Although the Trump administration and a Prince spokesperson have denied that the meeting had anything to do with Iran or Syria, Erik Prince would be a natural. His sisters is Betsy Devos, Sec. of Education, and Prince had meetings with the Trump team during the Transition. He also had lucrative contracts with the UAE government, which at one point paid his firm a reported $529 million to form an internal paramilitary force capable of carrying out secret operations and protecting Emirati installations from opposition attacks.