As Muammar Qaddafi's regime buckles under the weight of a combined NATO and rebel assault, social networking sites are awash with scenes and memories from the Libyan leader's four-decade rule. Earlier this week, for example, a photo of Qaddafi, embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali grinning at a summit in Libya darted around Facebook and Twitter.
Today, Adel Abdel Ghafar, a graduate student in Australia, surfaced one more gem: a video of Qaddafi warning Arab leaders at a 2008 summit in Syria that they might soon suffer the same fate as Iraq's Saddam Hussein and be overthrown by foreign powers. "A foreign force occupies an Arab country and hangs its leader while we are looking and laughing," he declares, according to the video's English translation. "In the future it is going to be your turn too," he adds, to laughter from the audience. An Al Jazeera report at the time noted that some of the Arab officials "looked stunned" by Qaddafi's words "while others broke into laughter at his frankness." The clip below shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who's currently facing international censure for suppressing his own uprising) giggling, though an apparent edit to the video makes it hard to say with certainty that he's laughing at Qaddafi's warning.
Qaddafi, who had been repairing his broken relationship with the U.S. since 2003 by renouncing his weapons of mass destruction program and partnering with the U.S. on counterterrorism operations, also cautioned that America's friendship could not be trusted. "Even you, the friends of America, no, I will say we, we, the friends of America, America may approve of our hanging one day," he said, in a declaration that seems particularly relevant today as the U.S. demands that Qaddafi cede power to the rebels. Qaddafi's comment about the vulnerability of Arab leaders takes place around 1:37 in the video below, and his line about America around 2:35.