I just stumbled across this photograph, taken in October 2010, in Sirte, Libya, at the opening of the “Second Arab-African Summit.”
One source identifies this as an Associated Press photo (can I claim fair use here for the purposes of history discussion?).
I cannot identify all the leaders of nations in this picture, but there, on the front row we see what are the ghosts of history — at least, they are ghosts from our vantage point in October 2011, just one year later.
On the far left of the first row in the photo smiles Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, now resigned and fled the nation in the first big event of the sweeping broom of freedom we now call Arab Spring; next to him, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who today barely clings to power trying to negotiate his own departure after eight months of protests in his nation. Dominating the center, in his flamboyant robes, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, killed yesterday in the civil war that brought down his 42-years of despotic government a few weeks earlier. Gaddafi’s leaning post is now-ousted-and-on-trial Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Syria’s Bashar al Assad is happy he was not in the center of this group, and hopes that’s a good omen for him — though Assad did attend this event.
This historic photo above appeared as an illustration to an article by an Arab sociologist bemoaning the dwindling hopes of change in the Arab world, and asking the question: “When will Arabs awaken?” Dr. Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa’s article sounds prophetic, now.
When will the pages of history turn? Soon, perhaps, and when we least expect it and when some have lost hope they will turn at all.
Can you help identify others in the photo? Surely there are other photos from this meeting in Sirte, Libya. What do they show?