The Possible Backstory behind the Secret Visit by Trump Envoy Erik Prince

|
April 4, 2017 12:19 p.m.

What to make of the latest revelation – that Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a major funder to the Trump campaign, buddy of Stephen Bannon, and brother of Education Secretary and Trump donor Betsy DeVos met secretly in the Seychelles Island with a Russian representative apparently to arrange a backchannel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin? It would be a mistake to file it immediately under Trumputingate. It’s more interesting than that.

According to the Washington Post story, what Prince, under the aegis of the United Arab Emirates, was trying to broker was a deal by which Russia would sever its ties with Iran in exchange for unspecified (at least in the story) administration concessions to Russia. If so, this explains some of Trump’s recent foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East and should raise alarm bells among everyone who worries about further and deeper involvement in that region’s conflicts.

In his campaign, Trump promised to extricate the US from the Middle East (and North Africa). He was highly critical of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and of Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya and Syria. He did promise to eradicate ISIS – a worthy if unachievable objective in the manner Trump described. And some of his actions in Syria and Iraq appear closely linked to that objective. But his intervention in Yemen? Giving his Defense Secretary leave to intervene forcefully there? Sending arms to the Saudis that would be used in the civil war there against the Iranian-back Houthis?

In his campaign, Trump did denounce Iran and the Iran deal. I put it down at the time to campaign opportunism, like his stand on abortion. But several of his key appointees have, to say the least, an unseemly obsession with Iran: Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor; but also Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary James Kelly, both of whom are former Marines, who still recall the Iranian bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Bannon, too, who was a naval officer in the Gulf during the Iranian hostage crisis, has talking of a “global war against Islamic fascism.” Add together Prince’s secret mission, these appointments and the recent intervention in Yemen, and you have the possibility that Trump may be embarked – whether consistently or wittingly – on a serious conflict, perhaps even a war, with Iran that will embroil the United States even more deeply in the Middle East. It’s not a happy prospect.

Latest Edblog
  • |
    May 12, 2021 10:32 a.m.

    Four months after the worst insurrection since the Civil War, the House GOP ousted one of its leaders for not…

  • |
    May 12, 2021 10:11 a.m.

    We have a beehive of activity on the Hill today, a combination of the Liz Cheney ousting and several committee…

  • |
    May 12, 2021 9:47 a.m.

    As you’ve likely seen, what began as civil disturbances in East Jerusalem has cycled into a full scale military engagement…

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: