As the intelligence community continues to investigate Russia’s role in helping to determine the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, The Washington Post reports that in January 2017, United Arab Emirates officials arranged a meeting between Erik Prince, founder of security firm Blackwater, and an unnamed Russian close to President Vladimir Putin.

Prince sought back channel for Trump-Putin talks on Syria and Iran

The purpose of the meeting, held in the Seychelles, was establishing a back channel for communication between President Donald Trump and Putin.

The purpose of the back channel, according to WashPo, was to help the two leaders communicate on matters of mutual interest, namely Syria and Iran. UAE, a long-time foe of Iran, may have involved itself in setting up the meeting between Prince and the Russian official in the hopes of seeing Iran further isolated from the international community through sanctions.

Prince’s involvement in facilitating dialog between U.S. and Russian leadership raises eyebrows because of the controversial figure’s role in Blackwater in the War in Iraq. Blackwater contractors, some of whom have been convicted, came under fire for abuses of Iraqi civilians, including killings. Prince, a staunch Trump supporter during the presidential campaign, is the brother of education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Why the Seychelles

The question as to why the Seychelles, the answer lies in privacy. The island nation, an archipelago of 115 islands, sits alone approximately 1,000 miles off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Seychelles, considered a hideaway from the prying eyes of the media, attracts public personalities such as Prince William and Duchess Kate, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Sir Paul McCartney to name a few.

The chief architect of the Trump-Putin back channel, UAE's Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is part owner of Seychelles’ Four Seasons.

Controversy regarding the White House’s ties to Russia remains a hot topic as public scrutiny on meetings between Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Russian officials intensifies.

News of the Seychelles meeting comes as the White House struggles to recover from its failed attempt at repealing Obamacare and braces for a showdown with U.S. Senate democrats over Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch.