ZINE EL-ABIDINE BEN ALI
Tunisia's president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is one of the most pro-Western leaders in the Arab world, but that doesn't mean he isn't also a brutal human rights abuser. Ben Ali has come under heavy criticism from both human rights organizations and foreign governments for the way his country treats prisoners and dissidents. But according to a March 2008 account of Ben Ali's meeting with the U.S. assistant secretary for Near East and Africa affairs, he doesn't like the pressure. Ben Ali, "expressed regret, however, over the human rights criticism Tunisia has faced as a result of its efforts to combat terrorism. Some governments have a 'double standard,' he said." But at the same time State Department officials were praising Ben Ali for his help in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Embassy in Tunis had plenty of disparaging remarks on the level of corruption in Ben Ali's government. A June 2008 cable titled "Corruption in Tunisia: What's Yours Is Mine" and signed by Ambassador Robert F. Godec reported that whether it's "cash, services, land, property, or yes, even your yacht, President Ben Ali's family is rumored to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants."
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