Ten ways to travel like Qadhafi, according to Wikileaks diplomatic cables

So, if you were a Middle Eastern strongman leader, how would you hit the town in New York City? I don’t know about you, but I’d want to do it with a real looker on my arm (and everywhere else). Apparently, that’s what Muammar al-Qadhafi has in mind. According to confidential diplomatic cables recently unearthed by Wikileaks and published by the NY Times, the Libyan leader prefers to travel in style. Specifically, he can’t “travel without his senior Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Klotnytska.”

The Wikileaks-released cable continues:

He also appears to have an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, reportedly prefers not to fly over water, and seems to enjoy horse racing and flamenco dancing. His recent travel may also suggest a diminished dependence on his legendary female guard force, as only one woman bodyguard accompanied him to New York. End Summary.

So, what else is on Qadhafi’s list of travel necessities? Well, he makes the likes of Axl Rose seem pretty easy to accommodate. Here are ten of my favorites:1. A plan: Qadhafi doesn’t like leaving details to chance, it seems. Over his 40-year rule, the cable says, “arious proclivities and phobias began to reveal themselves in every logistical detail.”

2. Efficiency: why take a new picture for his visa? Qadhafi noted that he had portraits of himself on “hundreds of billboards” in Tripoli. Surely, one of them could be “shrunken to fit the application’s criteria.” (Eventually, he agreed to have his picture taken for the visa application, though.)

3. Ground floor: Qadhafi “must stay on the first floor of any facility that was rented for him.” I also prefer to stay on the first floor, preferring not to have to wait when I want to get back to my room. I also like a room near elevators when I can’t stay on the first floor.

4. Tents: no, not the kind that happens first thing in the morning when you wake up … Qadhfi actually wanted “accommodations with room to pitch [his] Bedouin tent … as it offers him a non-verbal way of communicating that he is a man close to his cultural

5. Leg-stretching: the Libyan leader is not a fan of long flights and won’t stay in the air longer than eight hours. In fact, he stops in Portugal before heading all the way to New York. Qadhafi reportedly hates to fly over water.

6. His crew: Qadhafi, like most world leaders, doesn’t travel alone. In fact, he “appears to be almost obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel.”

7. His ladies: Kolotnytska, the senior nurse and “voluptuous blonde” isn’t the only girl Qadhafi has in his life. He has a staff of four Ukrainian nurses, but Kolotnytska is his favorite. When problems appeared to be coming because of a late visa application, “the Libyan Government sent a private jet to ferry her from Libya to Portugal to meet up with the Leader during his rest-stop.”

8. Dancing: Qadhafi, apparently, is a fan of the arts. He loves to watch dance troupes, with one visit featuring some from the Ukraine, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. He’s also enjoyed bands from Mexico, Russia and New Zealand, among others. However, Qadhafi has a soft spot for flamenco, once deciding to “stop in Seville (for a “personal trip” according to the Spanish Ambassador here) on his way back to Libya from Venezuela specifically to attend a flamenco dance performance.”

9. Security … not so much: once upon a time, Qadhafi’s female guards were part of his entourage. This isn’t really the case any more, with only one of the lovely ladies accompanying him.

10. Friends: it’s important to communicate with Qadhafi, it seems, because he’s been isolated so long. Like Shaft, the cable identifies the Libyan leader as “a complicated individual”. And, given the nurses and guards, the parallels with Shaft continue … “no one understands him but his woman …”

[photo by StartAgain via Flickr]