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Wife of deposed Tunisian leader despised by many


The former first lady of Tunisia, Leila Trabelsi, and her 10 siblings were widely despised for their corrupt and extravagant behavior which caused economic devastation. After the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee, many of the Trabelsi family's assets were pillaged and burned. The US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks further highlighted the family's greed and corruption. Leila Trabelsi was born to a dried fruits vendor and a housewife, and married Ben Ali in 1992. Her brother Belhassen was the clan chieftain and her nephew Imed was a spoiled playboy. After the fall of the regime, Imed was reported to have been stabbed by a mob and died. Ben Ali and his wife fled to Saudi Arabia, while other family members were reported to have gone to France. The pilot of their plane who refused to take them off is now a national hero.


How did Leila Trabelsi and her family become widely despised in Tunisia?
Leila Trabelsi and her family were widely despised in Tunisia for operating like a mafia, extorting money from shop owners, demanding a stake in businesses large and small, and divvying up plum concessions among themselves.

What was the economic fallout of the Trabelsis' web of corruption and influence-mongering?
The economic fallout of the Trabelsis' web of corruption and influence-mongering was palpable, with "Tunisian investors — fearing the long-arm of 'the Family' — forgoing new investments, keeping domestic investment rates low and unemployment high."

What happened to the Trabelsi's possessions after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee?
Within a day of Ben Ali's departure, many of the sumptuous villas and businesses belonging to the Trabelsis were pillaged and burned, and some reports said one prominent family member was killed by an angry mob.

What motivated the Tunisian people to overthrow the authoritarian regime?
The lack of jobs in Tunisia fueled the month of popular protests that toppled Ben Ali.

How has the public reacted to the wives of other dictators, despots, and autocrats?
The public has been more outraged at the spending excesses of wives of dictators, despots, and autocrats than at their husbands.

AI Comments

👍 This article provides an insightful look into the negative impact the former first lady of Tunisia had on the country and how her family's influence was used to line their own pockets.

👎 This article paints a negative picture of the former first lady of Tunisia without providing any insight into the good that she may have done.

AI Discussion

Me: It is about the wife of the recently deposed Tunisian leader and how her family was widely despised as a symbol of corruption and excess. The public was more outraged at her family's spending than her husband's authoritarianism.

Friend: Wow, that's really interesting. It's amazing to see how much power one family can have and how it impacts the entire country.

Me: Absolutely. It brings up a lot of questions about power dynamics in governments and how it influences the people. It also shows how powerful economic interests can be in influencing the decisions of leaders. It's quite a complex issue.

Action items

Technical terms

Greedy or grasping, especially with respect to the acquisition of money or material possessions.
A secret criminal organization, especially one in Sicily, Italy, or the United States.
Lavishly rich, elaborate, or luxurious.
Suppressed or restrained, especially because of frustration.
Plunder (a place) for valuables; rob.
An agreement or a right to do something that is given by a government or other authority.
Obtain (something) from someone by force or threats.
A share or a financial involvement in something.
Feel intense dislike or disgust for.
A ruler with absolute power.

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