On Leila Trabelsi

One of the key drivers of the Tunisian uprising was seething resentment for Leila Trabelsi, Ben Ali's wife, and her clan. You kept seeing protestors shouting slogans against "al Trabelsiya" and the homes of her family were among the first hit by looters and rioters.

I wrote this profile of her for the Daily Beast:

Laila herself ran the family business like a cross between a mafia don and a marriage maker. Conscious of the Trabelsi's humble background, she cemented alliances by marrying her relatives to more established families from the Tunisian business world and bourgeoisie. She meddled in the affairs of the country's elite like Joan Collins once did on the soap opera Dynasty: forever plotting and scheming to get her way.

Read the whole thing.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.