Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cablegate And Tunisia : Suha And Laila

There is no perfect time to discuss the Wikileaks cables about Tunisia except now in Egyptian Chronicles , there is  no perfect to discuss the dirty laundry of the Ben Ali’s regime except now to remind the world how the Tunisians suffer despite that glossy travel poster scene we always think of when we hear the world “Tunisia”.
First of all I use the Tag in Wikileaks not only the origin to get the cables I want, the Tag feature will help  you to see what other embassies and countries say about the country I am following. Second of all GOT is the government of Tunisia. Third there are no much cables from the U.S embassy in Tunis , may be the Wikileaks has not released yet more cables , may be we should not compare with a country like Egypt whose main western alley is States with Tunisia whose main western alley is France. “I bet the French cables got very real interesting details.There are in total 11 cables related to Tunisia with direct and indirect mentions in the available released batch. I will cover this time 5 cables and insh Allah in the next post I will cover the rest.
The first direct mention of Tunisia in the cables was in a secret one that sent on 30th March 2006 from the U.S embassy in Paris to Washington D.C and the U.S embassies in Tunis, Algiers and Rabat. This cable was mainly about French terrorism investigation judge Jean Francois Ricard and his promotion and transfer to the ministry of defense. The mentions of Tunisia comes in the last paragraph in the cable about the intelligence sharing relations between France and the Maghreb countries that Ricard spoke about with the U.S embassy staff. Ricard said that the int’l sharing was strained because the Tunisian government did not like that France had become then little outspoken about human rights in the country. The embassy staff made a comment that the France was still outspoken than the States when it comes to human rights issue in Tunisia.
The second mention of Tunisia is the first cable sent from the U.S embassy in Tunis to the State department in D.C . It was sent on 17th of October 2006 and the fun with Laila Ben Ali film starts from here. This cable was about Suha Arafat and how she and her daughter had acquired the Tunisian nationality. Do you remember when we found out Suha Arafat was kicked out of Tunisia suddenly and people began to speculate the reason !!? This cable and another one will answer your questions about this affair. Anyhow back to October 2006 Suha Arafat got a Tunisian passport and the U.S embassy speculated the reason why she acquired it. The embassy stated that Suha had lived in Tunisia even before her marriage to Arafat as the PLO was centralized in Tunisia for a while there and later returned back to Tunis after Arafat’s death where her daughter attended an American school in Tunisia. First the U.S embassy denies the rumor that Suha got the nationality after her marriage Belhassan Trablasi , the brother in law of Ben Ali, Laila’s brother.
Belhassan in his golden days
We will stop here to introduce Belhassan Trabelsi : the eldest brother in law of Laila Ben Ali, the former Tunisian first lady . Starting from the 1990s the Tunisians found him from the major businessmen in the country. Some say that there is not much about his real origins in the business except that he blackmailed real businessmen  and used his relation to the president to become one of the main corners of Tunisian economy .Officially he claimed that he worked in Algiers and made a fortune then he returned back to Tunisia to invest that fortune in his homeland. He got investments in everything from airlines to telecommunications to transportations to agriculture  to tourism to.. you name you will find it in the Karthago group !! Interestingly enough he owns Koral Blue airlines in partnership with none other than our Sameh Sawiris who is currently praying to get away from Tunisia now as soon as possible without losses. He also owns Mosaique FM, the first private FM radio in the country. He threatened artists like Hend Sabry to support his brother in law. His houses , companies and warehouses have been destroyed in the past 72 hours.
Back to the cable now the U.S embassy had a theory on why Suha had got then a Tunisian passport : either she would run for the parliament ‘unlikely’ or she would start a non agricultural project as Tunisian law foreign participation totally in the non exporting service industry can exceed 50%. ‘Most likely as she founded an international school earlier that year in Tunisia’
Laila Ben Ali on the left of Zahwa Arafat in her father's funeral
The third cable about Tunisia was sent on January 26 , 2007 from the U.S embassy in Paris to the State department in D.C and a number of embassies in North Africa about counter terrorism updates in the region. Chief counter-terrorism judge Jean Louis Bruguiere set and spoke with the American diplomats January 19, 2007 and spoke about the cooperation between the Maghreb countries and France regarding the GSPC activities. The former judge criticized the Tunisians for shutting the French out denying the existence of this threat in Tunisia.
The fourth cable about Tunisia was the sequel of the Suha Arafat Tunisian passport drama , her Tunisia citizenship was revoked and she was kicked off the country in the worst way ever and rumors were all over the Arab world. The cable was sent on November 7th , 2007 from the U.S embassy in Tunis to the State department in D.C. The cable discussed the different reasons or theories behind why Suha was kicked out of the country and these theories included very juicy details :
  1. Suha Arafat claimed that she did not approve how Laila interfered to close the prestigious and well renowned private Bouebedelli school because it represented a huge competition to their newly private international school “Carthage”This is according to Suha who lost about 2.5 million euros in this school “
  2. Suha was the one actually behind the closure of Bouebedelli school because she used the name of Laila without her knowledge !! “It is highly doubted theory , even the embassy dismissed it”
  3. Suha Arafat asked Gaddafi for money and the later could not believe that Ben Ali let the widow of Arafat beg for money like that and thus he called the “Zine” and blamed him ; knowing Gaddafi  we could imagine that the blame was crazy tough one to the level that Ben Ali kicked out Suha in the worst way ever with a public scandal. Of course there is no smoke without fire because Gaddafi bought that villa for Suha in Malta.
  4. She took huge amount money from the first family and they had enough.
  5. She married Belhassan Al-Trablesi without the approval of Laila
Suha was a friend to the U.S ambassador unlike Laila and was keen to give Mr. ambassador during her fight with Laila negative impressions about the Ben Alis. According to her greedy Laila hates the Americans and prefers the French and this was why she dropped the American diploma system in their school.  The queen of Carthage  thought she would be the president after his husband . Ben Ali is sick old man dying from cancer running around his 4 years old son then in the gardens of the Carthage presidential palace who did what his wife ordered him to do !! The U.S embassy was taking in consideration that Suha can’t stand the Ben Alis despite there was a lot of suspicion that the first lady was involved in the Bouebedelli school !!
What we learn from these two cables is that both the Ben Alis and Suha are scum !!
The fifth cable was sent on March 13, 2008 from U.S Embassy in Tunis to State department in D.C. The secret cable was about the meeting between Ben Ali and NEA assistant secretary David Welch. This cable shows you a glimpse how the States did not give damn to the black human rights record of Tunisia “Blacker than Ben Ali’s hair dye to be precise !!” and how Ben Ali knew what would please the States. Welch asked Ali for two requests : to interview  Noureddine Taam who was identified as terrorist and to promise that the Guantanamo prison Tunisian detainees would be treated good !! “as if they really cared !!” Of course Ben Ali said big ok on the requests of Welch and he praised the American attitude towards his country unlike some countries and their embassies “France” which ignored his efforts in counter-terrorism and bring the human rights issues now and then. This cable showed us that Ben Ali was among the channels U.S used to communicate with Gaddafi despite he did not want to be a regional player in the region. According to Ben Ali the problem was not in Gaddafi but at some of his ministers whom he got rid off !! Ben Ali approved the Annapolis conference and he also promised not to go to the Arab summit in Damascus as long as there was no Lebanese president.
Suha and Rania "Corbis"
P.S : among the rumors about why Suha was kicked out of the country was a juicy rumor that was not included in the cable despite it is very interesting on a regional scale : Suha Arafat told Queen Rania of Jordan to warn her sister in law princess Haya that Laila Ben Ali wanted her 16 years old niece to marry Sheikh Mo Makatom , Suha is a friend to the Jordanian Royal family and as an Arab woman she felt obliged to warn her friends that their daughter’s husband will have another young wife. It seemed that the scheme of Laila failed and thus she kicked out Suha in revenge. Did not I tell you that they are scum !!??

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