(Yahoo! News) ‘Enough dirt for a Libyan soap opera’: Cables reveal Gaddafi family peccadilloes
Here are some highlights from the cables:
Gaddafi, 68, is described as a “mercurial and eccentric figure who … enjoys flamenco dancing and horseracing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike.” He’s also said to fear flying over water and staying on the upper floor of buildings, to often fast on Mondays and Thursdays, and to have once proclaimed himself Libya’s “King of Culture.” Oh, and according to one memo, he travels almost everywhere in the company of a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.
Gaddafi “avoids making eye contact,” according to one 2008 cable sent to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she prepared to meet the Libyan leader. Rice also was warned that “there may be long, uncomfortable periods of silence,”
But Rice was also told that Gaddafi is a “a voracious consumer of news,” as well as a “self-styled intellectual and philosopher,” who “has been eagerly anticipating for several years the opportunity to share with you his views on global affairs.” One such view: an idea to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict by creating a new state called “Isratine.”
Gaddafi’s five sons also make appearances in the cables. One, Muatassim, who serves as his father’s national-security adviser, is said to have demanded $1.2 billion in 2008 from the chairman of Libya’s national oil corporation, in order to establish his own militia. Twice in the last few years, Muatassim has held lavish New Year’s parties on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, at which Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce have been paid to perform (Carey was reportedly paid $1 million for four songs). The reports of Muatassim’s “carousing and extravagance angered some locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation,” one cable says. The Serbian ambassador is said to have described Muatassim as “not very bright.”