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Dictators' Wives: A Look At The Women Behind Gaddafi, Mubarak, Assad And Others

First Posted: 04/20/2011 8:06 pm   Updated: 06/20/2011 5:12 am

United Nations sources claim Britain and France are hoping to slap Muammar Gaddafi's second wife with sanctions that would prevent her from using her multi-billion-dollar fortune to bolster her husband's regime.

As the Evening Standard is reporting, officials fear Safiya Farkash will use her wealth to support her husband's attacks on civilians if her assets aren't frozen in advance.

The Gaddafi controversy is casting new light on the women wed to the world's most feared leaders, including those ex-leaders and dictators targeted in anti-government demonstrations raging across the Middle East and North Africa. From Egypt's Suzanne Mubarak to Syria's Asma al-Assad, these women are the focus of rampant speculation, simultaneously revered and maligned by the public as they stand, usually well-dressed, beside powerful husbands. As the Telegraph reports, some are politically driven while others are content to assume more passive roles -- in some cases, rarely or never being seen at all.

Take a look at facts at some of the world's most-feared leaders' wives below:

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  • Suzanne Mubarak, Egypt

    Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's wife Suzanne has been noted for her fashion sense and was cited as a Clinton family friend. After Mubarak fell from power, she largely <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/01/suzanne-mubarak-egypt-s-mean-queen.html" target="_hplink">has disappeared</a> from public life. (Photo: AP)

  • Safiya Farkash (Gaddafi), Libya

    Muammar Gaddafi's second wife is known by her maiden name of Safia Farkash, and is the mother of six of his seven sons and his only daughter. Married to the Libyan leader for 40 years, Farkash (on left) <a href="http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23942752-britain-seeks-un-help-to-target-gaddafi-wifes-pound-18bn.do" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> controls a multi-billion-dollar fortune and massive gold assets. (Photo: Getty)

  • Asma al-Assad, Syria

    The wife of embattled Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, Asma al-Assad spent her childhood in Britain but became First Lady of Syria in 2000. She studied computer science, but eventually went into banking and moved to New York. (Photo: Getty)

  • Leila Trabelsi, Tunisia

    The wife of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Leila Trabelsi is a one-time hairdresser who is widely despised in her country as the ultimate symbol of corruption and excess, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/leila-trabelsi-tunisia-first-lady_n_811194.html" target="_hplink">reports</a> the Associated Press. Leila and her 10 siblings are said to have operated like a mafia, extorting money from shop owners and demanding a stake in businesses. (Photo: Getty)

  • Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, Ivory Coast

    As the <em>Guardian</em> <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/07/ivory-coast-simone-ehivet-gbagbo" target="_hplink">reports</a>, 61-year-old Simone Ehivet Gbagbo has been nicknamed "Hillary Clinton of the tropics," although opponents have been known to call her "Iron Lady" or "Blood Lady." When her husband, former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, came to power in 2000, she made it no secret that he was not the only one holding the reins -- appointing her own relatives and friends to government positions, getting elected as an MP and declaring herself president of the ruling FPI's parliamentary group. (Photo: Getty)

  • Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe

    The second wife of Robert Mugabe, Grace wed Zimbabwe's president in an extravagant mass titled "Wedding of the Century" by the local press. Previously secretary to the president, she became his mistress and together they had two children. In late 2010, Zimbabwe's first lady has filed a $15 million lawsuit against a popular independent newspaper after they published a story citing WikiLeaks cables alleging her involvement in illegal diamond deals, the <em>Christian Science Monitor</em><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1217/Grace-Mugabe-sues-paper-over-WikiLeaks-diamonds-story" target="_hplink"> reports</a>. (Photo: AP)

  • Galina Lukashenko, Belarus

    Little is known about the wife of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, and she has never once been photographed at his side. Galina<a href="http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=8495&IBLOCK_ID=35" target="_hplink"> reportedly </a>doesn't have Lukashenko's direct phone number and must schedule a visit through official channels if she wants to see him. Meanwhile, it's heavily reported that Lukashenko lives with another woman. (Photo: odkryjmybialorus.blox.pl)


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Filed by Curtis M. Wong  |