« | Home | »

Qadhafi’s Left Arm

Tags: |

The US ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, may be the first senior diplomat to fall victim to the release of confidential embassy cables on WikiLeaks. ‘Ambassador (Gene A.) Cretz is in Washington for consultations… The question of when Ambassador Cretz returns to Libya will be one of the many subjects of his consultations,’ a spokesman said last week. Appointed in 2007, Cretz was the first US ambassador to Libya since 1972. Last month Colonel Qadhafi praised WikiLeaks for exposing US hypocrisy. ‘The true face of US diplomacy has been revealed through the confidential documents,’ he said. This ‘proved that America is not what it has led allies and friends to believe it to be’.

Most of the stories from Tripoli that were picked up in the western media were old news in Libya, where few are unaware, for example, that Qadhafi suffers from phobias about flying, travelling over water and staying on upper floors. Many elderly desert bedouin feel the same way and no one thinks that Qadhafi travelled 7000 miles around Africa by land because of his love for African unity.

One of the more curious – and less reported – stories concerns a businessman from Las Vegas who befriended one of Qadhafi’s bodyguards and ended up spending a fair amount of time with the Leader inside his tent. The ‘consultant’ remains anonymous, but the bodyguard is named as Mabruka al-Sharef. ‘Mabruka, who is in her mid-40’s, is known to be very close to Qadhafi,’ Cretz writes. ‘She has been described to emboffs’ – embassy officials – ‘as “Qadhafi’s left arm”.’ The consultant first met Mabruka in early 2009. By November of that year, when the cable was sent, she ‘had provided him access to Qadhafi on numerous occasions and even arranged for the two to meet during the Leader’s September visit to New York.’ On the other hand, ‘the consultant had not yet managed to secure business contracts for any of his clients.’ There may be a straightforward bureaucratic reason for this: at the moment, just one member of the Revolutionary Guard is signing off on all government tenders, so there’s quite a backlog.

Cretz’s supporters say that he was a popular ambassador but the word in Tripoli is that Libyans never much liked him. In the run-up to his departure Qadhafi reportedly suggested to the visiting US assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs, Jose Fernandez, that he might like to take Cretz home with him. The Libyans weren’t fed up with Cretz only because of the WikiLeaks cables: they have been feeling short-changed by the US since dismantling their WMD programme in 2003.

Comments on “Qadhafi’s Left Arm”

  1. Mike Killingworth says:

    Four years is a reasonable tour of duty for an ambassador, surely…

  2. outofdate says:

    No, that’s not good enough. The Koreans are doing lively business with Libya, and they’ve found time to fall out and make up again while that Cretz fellow’s basically been malingering.

  3. Geoff Roberts says:

    “a businessman from Las Vegas who befriended one of Qadhafi’s bodyguards and ended up spending a fair amount of time with the Leader inside his tent.” The mind boggles. I wonder what they talked about? Certainly doesn’t sound as if it was business that they chatted about. Maybe Qadhafi recounted his adventures with his old chum Berlusconi, while the busom friend tendered tea and Quat. I don’t suppose they discussed trade agreements.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement