We all remember the fruits of the rumor mills, at full grind during the first year of Arab Spring revolution, churning out grains of dictator myth with flecks of truth. Much was said of the Spring criminals - the guilty parties, those grimy leaders and their complicit conniving wives. Behind every successful man, a power hungry woman. The stories corroborated the adage. We heard tell of Suzanne Mubarak who sucked her people dry and fed on the fat of the Nile-land – sparing no library or good will venture in her path.
Later on, Asma Assad the better and certainly fairer half of Bashar came under attack for her untimely interview with Vogue, who were more than happy to present her as a rose petal  – butter wouldn’t melt. And as she carried on with life at the side of a butchering husband, bearing child and presumably carrying on shopping online , we wondered just what she was made of.
Now the Tunisian model, the unpopular wife of deposed President Zinedine Ben Ali, Leila Trabelsi,  who even during better days got saddled with the unflattering tags of power-mongering Lady Macbeth and the ‘hairdresser’  (in contempt at her modest ‘roots’) as well as thief, is once again the subject of the dregs of the revolution barrel of dirt.
She may be safe in the confines of the Saudi Kingdom, but her purported old evil antics are still spinning stories to sate the hungry public. In an interview with Tunisia’s Hannibal TV station, Samir Seriati – said to be filing a documentary on the former First Lady (the key to the state coffers as per the mock-song 'Leila passe partout')  - has let slip some salubrious secrets. Son of Ali Seriati, the former head of Ben Ali’s presidential guard, he shares snippets of whispered conversations that took place within the palace walls in those pre-ousting last moments, January 14, 2011.
There is still a healthy degree of intrigue about what happened in the last hours before ruination took hold. What words were exchanged between the power couple confronted with the wreckage of their Carthage palace built in the air?
Hot off the French press, come dark but vivid details of the heated exchanges we are now privy to, courtesy of this fly on the palatial wall. Apparently, in the eleventh hour, much kerfuffle attended the president’s departing speech. While surrounded by his inner circle of direct family and wife’s kin - the notorious Trabelsi clan - those pre-resignation nerves showed most in his fraught wife. At the crux of the pressure-cooked final hour lay the segment in the speech addressing his ‘accountable’ family. The wife may have stood by her man, but she perhaps set him up for a hard landing. Ben Ali was taking his wed-locked other half down with him.
Seriati names those present as daughter Cyrine and her husband Mabrouk, daughter Ghazwa accompanied by spouse Zarrouk, conjuring a scene very reminiscent of the King Lear opening where father is surrounded by ingrates. In Ben Ali’s case, his girls were on a mission to get their claws into the fine print of his last rites.
The staged relinquishing of power, penned by a Iyadh Ouderni with the help of son-in-law Mabrouk, contained, in early draft, a phrase wherein Ben Ali professed that his “immediate family must be held accountable'".
After that, according to inside understanding from the family spy Mr. Seriati, the strongman of Tunisia would announce to his wife his decision to divorce her in the name of best protocol practice, to cleanse and rectify his stately standing. But he never got that far because, when he gave his wife a head’s up, Leila's reaction was so furious and stormy, and quite hard to dismiss, even as heat of the moment. She reportedly uttered a blood-curdling threat – eyewitnesses can attest - of her intent to "liquidize [or pulverize] her son" if hubbie carried out the divorce.
Not surprisingly, this graphic threat caused any resolve in the had-been President  to unchain his dependent, to evaporate. The controversial clause was apparently then modified for posterity and the ensuing drafts, and left at "they will be held accountable" - with no reference to any action points.