The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
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 be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.
Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.
Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.
U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump. The FBI declined to comment.
The Seychelles encounter, which one official said spanned two days, adds to an expanding web of connections between Russia and Americans with ties to Trump — contacts that the White House has been reluctant to acknowledge or explain until they have been exposed by news organizations.
“We are not aware of any meetings, and Erik Prince had no role in the transition,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.
A Prince spokesman said in a statement: “Erik had no role on the transition team. This is a complete fabrication. The meeting had nothing to do with President Trump. Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?”
Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.
Prince would probably have been seen as too controversial to serve in any official capacity in the Trump transition or administration. But his ties to Trump advisers, experience with clandestine work and relationship with the royal leaders of the Emirates — where he moved in 2010 amid mounting legal problems for his American business — would have positioned him as an ideal go-between.
The Seychelles meeting came after separate private discussions in New York involving high-ranking representatives of Trump with both Moscow and the Emirates.
The White House has acknowledged that Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s original national security adviser, and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, in late November or early December in New York.
Flynn and Kushner were joined by Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not notify the Obama administration in advance of the visit, though officials found out because Zayed’s name appeared on a flight manifest.
Officials said Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials with the goal of establishing an unofficial back channel between Trump and Putin.
Officials said Zayed wanted to be helpful to both leaders, who had talked about working more closely together, a policy objective long advocated by the crown prince. The UAE, which sees Iran as one of its main enemies, also shared the Trump team’s interest in finding ways to drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran.
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.
At the time of the Seychelles meeting and for weeks afterward, the UAE believed that Prince had the blessing of the new administration to act as its unofficial representative. The Russian participant was a person whom Zayed knew was close to Putin from his interactions with both men, the officials said.
hi anon! i don’t think i really have headcanons as much, weirdly enough– i don’t really think about of the characters outside of their context because the context itself is so confusing. i do have some thoughts though! theories, rather. i’ve written about a few of these on genius or on here already, but, still.
the fool becomes the pusher after he leaves to new york city with his cello and gets addicted to heroin. it’s a very direction transition; his life falls apart and then he’s left screaming about the apocalypse on the subway platform.
the act of the pusher shoving pearl into the subway track means a few things: firstly, it’s the bear fulfilling the request of rose, finally causing pearl’s ruin, and secondly, it’s a direct act of revenge against pearl (as the soldier) striking the bear in the game. pearl strikes the bear and the bear (as the pusher) shoves her into the subway track.
common knowledge, but the shah becomes the “man in iran” who sees ghosts.
david is the subway driver. like, “david” himself is his own character in my view of it, not just an extension of dave, he is the man playing the piano for thelonious monk and he also becomes the subway driver. trying to flesh out that idea more; the transition is really only clear in “midnight”.
rose and the subway driver’s children are rose red and pearl white. this must be true otherwise the whole, “AND THE DEAD GIRL LEPT UPON HER MOTHER / AND HER SISTER / AND HER DAUGHTER / AND HER LOVER” makes no sense; i’ve been wrestling with this for a while and this must be how it is. i talked about this is a post and i stand by it.
lady usher’s mother is an iteration of rose.
i know some people think that roxie jumping upon lady usher is simply rose possessing roxie (who was already dead) and making the dead girl attack her, but the original story literally has them burying a twin sister who isn’t actually dead. i think edgar and lady usher quite frankly just buried roxie alive.
i feel as though i can’t be the only one who noticed this, but: brent is the only person who is ever referred to by his actual first name. what’s so chilling is roxie going on her rant and saying, “and no, Brent, it’s not so perfect it’s boring–,” like, this is the fool, not brent, what! in “midnight” the same thing happens, pearl saying, “you’re a really good cello player, brent.” i still don’t know the significance of it but something about brent stands out like a sore thumb from the other three, his distance from the narrative but this fourth-wall breaking thing.
my brain is still wrapping itself around lady usher singing “I FORGIVE YOU / OH ROXIE / OH ROXIE / OH ROSE…” a pre-moment of forgiveness after rose asks for the bear to kill her and takes a photo as she watches her die? i don’t know. i don’t know.
It ignores that the deal is working.The deal was intended to keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, a crucial and necessary goal. Critics ignore the fact that the deal is doing that, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, which rigorously monitors Iran’s activities, and even Mr. Trump’s own State Department have certified.
It would alienate our allies and make a bad situation with North Korea even worse. If America withdraws from the agreement, it will outrage the other major powers that are party to the deal — France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — and give Iran an excuse to resume a full-blown nuclear program. Why Mr. Trump would risk that when North Korea’s program is a full-time concern is a mystery.
It doesn’t help in the fight against the Islamic State. The fear is that Mr. Trump’s demonizing of Iran, and his unwillingness to engage its government, could result in a broadening of the American military mission from defeating ISIS to preventing Iranian influence from expanding. This would be dangerous. Iran is a vexing state to be smartly managed, not assumed to be an implacable enemy.
It ignores the complexity of the region. In some ways Iran is an easy political target. Sunni Arabs feel threatened by Iran and are competing with Iran for regional influence. Israel detests Iran and so do many members of Congress. Yet to see Iran as implacably hostile is much too simple. Even as Mr. Trump reaffirmed America’s partnership with the conservative Saudi royals, Iranians were re-electing a moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as president and reaffirming their interest in engagement with the West. The Saudi human rights record is no better than Iran’s.
It undermines trust in America and the country’s ability to negotiate in the future. At a crucial moment, Donald Trump is forcing the world to confront core questions it really shouldn’t have to ask: Can he be trusted? And, more saliently, can America be trusted? His threats to jettison the Iran nuclear deal are undermining America’s credibility as a negotiating partner and weakening America’s ability to lead the free world as it has for 70 years.
Trump pulling out of the nuclear deal puts the US on course towards war with Iran.
Trump once again caves to neocons as well as Saudi and Israeli lobbying (who want to see Iran destroyed but have no desire to fight that war themselves), so prepare for another needless conflict wrecking a stable government in the region and spreading chaos and suffering with absolutely no benefit even for the US itself.
This move also damages the overall credibility of US diplomacy and greatly reduces any chance of a peaceful resolution to the North Korea situation (as they have no reason to believe the US will stick to any de-escalation agreements).
NEW YORK — President Trump warned the United Nations in a speech Tuesday that the world faces “great peril” from
rogue regimes with powerful weapons and terrorists with expanding reach
across the globe, and called on fellow leaders to join the United States
in the fight to defeat what he called failed or murderous ideologies
and “loser terrorists.”
“We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said in his maiden address
to more than 150 international delegations at the annual U.N. General
Assembly. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights
or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”
The president’s address was highly anticipated
around the world for signs of how his administration would engage with
the U.N. after he had criticized the organization during his campaign as
being bloated and ineffective, and threatened to slash U.S. funding.
offered a hand to fellow leaders but also called on them to embrace
“national sovereignty” and to do more to ensure the prosperity and
security of their own countries. Over and over, he stressed the rights
and roles of “strong, sovereign nations” even as they band together at
the United Nations.
will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your
countries, should put your countries first,” Trump said, returning to a
campaign theme and the “America First” phrase that has been criticized
as isolationist and nationalistic.
The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”
The North Korean delegation was seated, by chance, in the front row, mere feet from the U.N. podium.
praised the U.N. for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its
nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong
Un’s regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize
East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country
and its allies.
“We will have no choice but to totally destroy
North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the
dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide
mission for himself.”
Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
is scheduled to have a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss
the situation. He spoke separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping,
who is not attending this year’s General Assembly.
also called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “one of the worst and
most one-sided” agreements ever, and “an embarrassment” to the United
States. His voice rising, Trump strongly hinted that his administration
could soon declare Tehran out of compliance. That could potentially
unravel the accord. Trump and his top aides have been critical of Iran
for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.
“I don’t think you’ve heard the end of it,” Trump said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beamed as he and his wife, Sara,
listened to Trump speak. The Israeli leader, an opponent of the
international nuclear deal with Iran, was also addressing the world body
later Tuesday, a day earlier than usual because he is leaving the
gathering in time to spend the Jewish holy days in Israel.
more than 30 years of my acquaintance with the UN, I have not heard a
more courageous and sharp speech,“ Netanyahu, a former Israeli
ambassador to the body, said after Trump’s remarks. "President Trump
told the truth about the dangers lurking in the world, and called to
face them forcefully to ensure the future of mankind.”
meeting with media executives Tuesday shortly before Trump’s address,
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has complied fully with its
commitments under the nuclear deal and predicted the United States will
be the loser if it “tramples upon” the 2015 agreement.
will clearly see that Iran has lived up to its agreements and that the
United States is therefore a country that cannot be trusted,” Rouhani
“We will be the winners,” he added, while the United States “will certainly sustain losses.”
also seemed to suggest a U.S. withdrawal would free Iran from its
obligations under the deal, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions in
exchange for limits on its nuclear program.
will mean that this agreement has seen a foundational problem, and
under those conditions, Iran will be freed to choose another set of
conditions,” he said.
In his speech, Trump pledged that his
administration would support the United Nations in its goals of pursuing
peace, but he was sharply critical of the organization, and its member
nations, for not living up to the promise of its founding in 1945.
do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, values or
systems of government,” he said. “But we do expect all nations to uphold
their core sovereignty and respect the interests of their own people
and rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision
of this institution and the foundation for cooperation and success.”
president also focused on the growing threats of “radical Islamic
terrorism,” a phrase he had left out of other recent speeches, including
a prime time address to the nation on his Afghanistan strategy. He
declared that his administration would not allow “loser terrorists” to
“tear up our nation or tear up the entire world.”
But Trump also
cautioned that areas of the world “are in conflict and some, in fact,
are going to hell.” He spent a portion of the speech decrying the
“disastrous rule” of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose authoritarian
regime has sent the country into political and economic crisis.
“It is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch,”
Trump said, calling on the U.N. to help the Venezuelan people “regain
their freedom and recover their country and restore their democracy.”
did not address some aspects of his foreign policy that have alarmed
foreign leaders, including the proposed temporary ban on immigration for
several Muslim-majority nations, a border wall with Mexico or the
planned U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.
appeared to answer international criticism of sweeping new restrictions
on refugee resettlement by saying that the United States is helping
refugees in other ways. Washington can help 10 people displaced in their
home regions for the cost of moving one to the United States, Trump
Near the end of his remarks, Trump asked rhetorically: “Are
we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their
sovereignty and take ownership of their futures?”
Germany does not want to see Iran nuclear deal damaged - 10 October 2017
Germany is worried that US President Donald Trump will say the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program is not being adhered to and that this will turn North Korea off any accord to halt its nuclear weapons program, the foreign minister said. Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in Berlin on Monday that Germany was ready to increase pressure on Iran, with diplomatic means, but that “we do not want to see this agreement damaged.” He added: “Our big concern is with, regard to North Korea, that it is very unlikely the North Korean dictatorship is ready to agree to an international agreement to renounce the building of nuclear weapons if the only agreement in the world that has allowed such a renunciation is at the same time called into question.”
“I saw the text messages from other women before we got married. My parents warned me but I married him anyway, without their permission. I thought he’d change. Now he leaves for days at a time. He tells me: ‘Calm down. It’s nothing. They come and go. But I live with you.’ But I can’t calm down. I think about it all the time. Whenever he’s out, I think about it. I try to keep busy and calm my mind but it’s gotten so bad that I’m seeing a doctor.”
I’d dreamt of visiting Iran for years. Seeing images of its magnificent mosques, beautiful parks and narrow bazaar alleyways lined with carpet weavers and rug shops always made me yearn to visit, so when I heard the UN sanctions were lifted earlier this year and that travel as an independent couple (and not part of a tour group) might be slightly more easier, I was in that Iranian embassy quicker than you can say CHELLO KEBAB.
We landed in Tehran in the early hours, just as Fajr began, and on the ride to the hotel we saw the city waking up. Getting closer to our hotel in midtown Tehran, shutters were opening, the streets became busier (Tehran traffic is a thing people – it’s worse than Mumbai), and sunlight began to illuminate the grand mountains surrounding the metropolis that were previously only a daunting shadow.
There is so much to see and experience in Tehran; from the magnificent royal palaces, to holy shrines adorned with marble and mosaic and the huge parks blooming with flowers and citrus trees, to the dusty streets filled with rich aromas of lamb kebabs and naan, and the artsy and hipster pockets of the city sprinkled with museums and exhibitions. Come Maghrib (sunset prayer) and the city begins to light up, with families, couples and groups heading north towards Tajrish and the Darband mountains for a long night of food, music and nargile in restaurants carved high up into the rocks.
There’s an underlying atmosphere of wonder and curiosity now that the political climate is changing. You can feel it in the markets, from the falooda stands to the rug bazaars, in the glazed shopping malls and the conversations in restaurants and cafes. Will business boom? Will the economy improve? What changes will Iran see? What lies ahead?
The Guardian US writer Jessica Valenti was doing some research for an article on the Tampon Tax (which became the inspiration for this post.) and decided to ask this on Twitter:
She received hundreds and hundreds of replies, all looking more or less like this:
Yes, Twitter trolls will attack everyone and anyone online. But why are women always on the receiving end of the harshest abuse? And why is always their gender used against them in this abuse? This isn’t a gender-neutral issue; these responses collectively have decided that women’s bodies are disgusting and that women have no right to express opinions about what women may or may not need.
(Also, how come… whenever gender inequalities in Western countries is discussed, some people seem to think that “Move to Iran, see how you’ll like it there!” or “Women are being stoned in the Middle East, get some perspective!” are marvellously productive and intelligent inputs that will end a discussion and make gender inequality disappear.
It’s just that… when people discuss other issues, such as government cuts, increasing crime rates or delayed trains, “Move to Iran, see how you’ll like it there!” doesn’t really seem to be an appropriate (or commonly used) response. It doesn’t solve the problem discussed and the comment isn’t improving the situation for women in the Middle East either. So… Hmm…)
Words matter. Especially in Iran where what is permissible — to say, to do, to be seen to say or do — is an ever changing thing.
It took us many years of trying to finally be allowed in to Iran, the country with whom we have probably the most contentious relationship on earth. At the time, we thought that perhaps, our welcome was an indicator of a new attitude, an opening of a window. But as it turned out, that is probably not the case. The window appeared to slam shut in particularly ugly fashion shortly after our departure.
What we saw, what we came back with, is a deeply confusing story. Because the Iran you see from the inside, once you walk the streets of Tehran, meet Iranians, is a very different place than the Iran we know from the news. Nowhere else I’ve been has the disconnect between what one sees and feels from the people and what one sees and hears from the government been so extreme.
Iran’s official attitude towards America, its policies, its actions in the region, are a matter of record. How it treats its own citizens as far as their personal behaviors is also, a matter of record. You do not want to be perceived as behaving inappropriately in Iran — as we have seen with the recent video of kids dancing along to the song, “Happy.” And what is inappropriate is an ever shifting thing. What the “government” or the president says is okay one day, might be deemed dangerous or unacceptable by the clergy or the “basij”, the roving, unofficial but official religious police, on another — as we came to find out.
I’m going to be careful about what I say here. Even here. Like I said. Words have consequences. Not for me. I can go to China, for instance, and come back, and say whatever I want about Tibet or human rights without fear. But what about the people I leave behind? The ones who were kind to me, helped me, innocently put their trust in me and my crew to not hurt them? That is something I think very seriously about — and its something we are very careful to not do: put people in harm’s way for no other crime than associating with us. Innocence, in much of the world, is, sadly, no defense against accusations..and worse.
One of the reasons this episode is deeply confusing might be because the “vibe” in Iran, the general feeling of walking down the streets, through the markets, the way we were received everywhere by total strangers and passersby, was overwhelmingly friendly. I have said that Iran is the most outgoingly warm, “pro-American” place we’ve ever shot — and that’s true: in Tehran, in spite of the fact that you are standing in front of a giant, snarling mural that reads “DEATH TO AMERICA!”, you will, we found, usually be treated better by strangers — meaning smiles, offers of assistance, curious attempts to engage in limited English, greetings and expressions of general good will — than anywhere in Western Europe. It would be hard to imagine strangers in Germany or France or England, on recognizing you as American, giving you a thumbs up and a smile simply for your nationality. That was overwhelmingly the case in Iran.
We were having an off camera gathering to celebrate our producer Tom Vitale’s birthday at a restaurant in Tehran. When the other diners heard there was a birthday at our table, the whole dining room sang us Happy Birthday in farsi and English. This was not an isolated incident, only one example. Our daily experiences were filled with delightful incongruities.
At the time we were there, the mood was cautiously hopeful for a time where we, Americans and Iranians, might see more of each other in the near future. Iran, it should be pointed out, is very beautiful. The food is spectacular. Iranians are very proud of their cooking — and for good reason. They are also famously generous hosts.
During my time in Iran, I was not naïve about where I was — or the realities of the situation. The secret police camped out a few doors down from my room (very congenial ones, to be fair), were a reminder. The fact that twitter, instagram, and Facebook are forbidden. The sinister sounding “Ministry of Guidance”, for whom we had to refer for approvals, were unfailingly congenial and helpful, however. No intrusive government presence — or attempts to shape our story were felt as we went about our business, unlike any number of other places we’ve shot over the years.
We were not there to do an “expose” of life inside Iran. Nor were we there to do a fair, balanced, comprehensive overview — or anything of the sort. My intention was simply to give a flavor of that weird intangible, what it feels like to walk the streets, sit at the table, look around. To listen. To show you what I saw.
This is not a black and white world — as much as people would like to portray at as such. That’s not an apology for anything. I’m just saying that the brief, narrow slice of Iran we give you on this episode of PARTS UNKNOWN is only one part of a much deeper, multi-hued very old and very complicated story. Like anything as ancient and as beautiful as the Persian Empire, its worth, I think, looking further. It’s also place that can warm your heart one day and break it the next.
At the time of this writing, Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian remains imprisoned. The reasons for his arrest have never been explained. In our time with him, on camera and off, he was unfailingly affectionate and generous in his portrayal of Iran — an advocate for — if anything — understanding. It is a mystery and an injustice that any would find fault with him or his wife, Yeganeh (who has only recently been released).
dododo Iran! Unforunately, my dear Team Melli lost to Iraq in the AFC Asian Cup quarter finals, but they played like champions! They always make their vatan proud, though :) Forgive me for my absence here, I have been quite busy—what with nuclear negotiations with the West and the Asian Cup and everything else!
((A simple doodle! The game between Iran and Iraq was a heartbreaker! twitter was roaring with cheers and tears at the outcome, but Team Melli is full of wonderful players and they are certainly loved by their fans!
thank you so much for talking about this stuff... ive been upset & terrified all day for my persian friends who will now be unable to see their families in iran... your posts make me feel like i can do something about it, or at least they let me know that someone else is upset too... so thank u
here are some things you can do from home to help right now: