- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2010

GOOFY GADHAFI

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafifears flying over water, likes to watch flamenco dancers, insists on staying on the ground floor of hotels when he travels and never leaves home without his “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse, who might be having an affair with the “world’s longest-serving dictator.”

Those are some of the candid observations on Mr. Gadhafi’s “personal proclivities” contained in a secret cable from U.S. Ambassador Gene A. Cretz in Tripoli, Libya, to the State Department last year.

Mr. Cretz prepared the diplomatic dispatch in an advance of Mr. Gadhafi’s maiden speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September 2009, his first visit to the United States.

“Recent firsthand experiences with [Mr. Gadhafi] and his staff, primarily in preparation for his [U.N.] trip, provided rare insights into Gadhafi’s inner circle and personal proclivities,” Mr. Cretz wrote.

He noted that Mr. Gadhafi has frequently been described as “mercurial and eccentric,” adding that the embassy’s contacts with the Libyan leader and his aides “demonstrated the truth of both characterizations.”

Gadhafi’s dislike of long flights and apparent fear of flying over water caused logistical headaches for his staff,” Mr. Cretz said.

Mr. Gadhafi also refuses to fly for longer than eight hours at a time and required a layover in Portugal before flying on to New York, the ambassador said. At 68, the Libyan strongman apparently is weakening, as he cannot climb more than 35 steps at a time, Mr. Cretz added, quoting an aide whose name was redacted from the dispatch released by WikiLeaks.

He insists on staying on the ground floor of hotels, which is why he stayed at the Libyan diplomatic residence in New Jersey.

Gadhafi relies heavily on his longtime Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska, who has been described as a ‘voluptuous blonde,’ ” the ambassador said, adding that “some embassy contacts have claimed that Gadhafi and the 38-year-old Kolotnytska have a romantic relationship.”

At a celebration of the 40th anniversary of his reign, Mr. Gadhafi enjoyed dance troupes from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Ukraine, but was especially interested in the flamenco dancers from Spain.

However, the ambassador warned State Department officials not to underestimate Mr. Gadhafi, whom he called the “world’s longest-serving dictator.”

“While it is tempting to dismiss his many eccentricities as signs of instability, Gadhafi is a complicated individual who has managed to stay in power for 40 years through a skillful balancing of interests and realpolitic methods,” Mr. Cretz concluded.

PHONY DINNER

An influential Western business executive plugged holes in the walls of a run-down palace and cut the electricity so a miserly Saudi prince could entertain Britain’s Prince Charles at a candlelight supper that the businessman later described as a “phony dinner.”

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