Michelle avoids Khashoggi and Thatcher in Marbella
First Lady skips charity gala in Spain, neatly side- stepping two figures from the Reagan era
Perhaps learning from Naomi Campbell's mistake - if only she'd never accepted that dinner invitation in 1997 she'd never have met Charles Taylor, let alone been caught up in the 'blood diamonds' fiasco - Michelle Obama avoided a gala dinner being held on Saturday at the Marbella hotel where she is holidaying with her daughter Sasha.
Smart move - the Starlite Gala at the Villa Padierna hotel was a good one to miss. Not only was it swarming with iffy Euro aristrocrats - Gunilla Gräfin von Bismarck and Alfonso de Borbon, the Duke of Anjou - but among those on the guest list was Adnan Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was the notorious Turkish-Saudi Arabian arms dealer implicated as a middleman in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
Reagan's Republican administration allegedly sanctioned the sale of weapons to Iran in breach of an arms embargo, in return for help in releasing US hostages held by Hezbollah. Money from the sale of weapons was then diverted to fund the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who were supported by the CIA.
In short, it was one of the messiest affairs of the era and dogged the Republicans for years.
Another guest mooted to be attending the Starlite Gala was Sir Mark Thatcher, son of Reagan's bosom buddy Margaret Thatcher.
The Iron Lady's son has a home in San Pedro de Alcantara, just down the road from Marbella, where he tries to keep his enemies at bay. Among these is President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea who, legend has it, likes to eat the testicles of those who cross him. Thatcher is on Obiang's most wanted list after he allegedly helped fund the failed "wonga coup" of 2004 to overthrow him.
Being photographed with either Khashoggi or Thatcher would not have helped the First Lady, already in trouble with some pesky Republican commentators for running up an unnecessarily large bill for her holiday with nine-year-old Sasha.
The cost of the actual vacation - hotel, food and travel within Spain - has been met by the First Family personally. But the cost of security and the flights there and back on Air Force Two are picked up by the American taxpayer.
Critics are asking why they had to travel so far for sunshine at a time when ordinary Americans are having to tighten their belts. ·
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