On January 11, 2017, a week before Trump’s inauguration, two powerful men huddled together at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in the Seychelles, off the coast of east Africa: a fit, 6-foot-tall middle-aged American, with a military bearing, and a slightly younger Russian man, balding and bespectacled. They each nursed a beer and spoke quietly, so that the pair of Arab-looking men in dark suits standing nearby didn’t even try to eavesdrop. Every few minutes, the American checked his watch, a rescue-beacon-equipped Breitling Emergency. Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly zeroed in on the hush-hush meeting, gathering evidence that shows it may have been one of the first efforts to set up a covert line of communication between Trump and Putin. But amid the scrutiny of Trump’s ties with Russia–and on meetings like the one in the Seychelles–another important story has been overlooked: the attempts by the United Arab Emirates, many successful, to influence the Trump administration, especially concerning its archrival Qatar. The de facto ruler of the UAE, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, or “MBZ” as he’s known, has met with members of the Trump coterie in two informal circumstances that we know… Read full this story
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