Iran's YouTube Generation
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  1. #1

    Exclamation Iran's YouTube Generation

    DECEMBER 15, 2008

    Iran's YouTube Generation
    Defiance on display.

    Iran's universities are again the scene of battles over the country's future. In the digital age, we're able to take a better peek inside.

    Footage of recent student protests in Tehran, Shiraz and Hamedan are all over the Internet. In particular, one clip of a student dressing down a government dignitary reveals a remarkable willingness to defy the regime. On the video, a young man at Shiraz University rises to address the visiting speaker of parliament and former nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani. "I'm not going to ask you a question because I don't accept you as the legitimate speaker or the parliament as legitimate," the student says, citing the elimination of opposition candidates in the previous parliamentary election.

    Sitting on stage before a hundred or so students, Mr. Larijani looks taken aback and says nothing. "Let me tell you what is weighing heavily on my heart," the student continues. "I hate three things. One, I hate [President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

    Applause erupts -- in itself an act of defiance, since the mullahs consider clapping, along with neckties, a Western habit. "Two, I hate him for his hypocrisy." At this point, some pro-regime students -- whom reports link to the government-sanctioned Basij organization, the mullahs' brown shirts -- interrupt with chants and heckles. Amid the mayhem, the video ends. We don't know the young man's name or what happened to him after this October 9 encounter. Some Iranians speculate he was arrested; others say he went into hiding.

    Since the last student uprising was crushed six years ago, Iran has seen sporadic but growing resistance to the regime -- most recently at the "Student Day" rallies on December 6 that commemorate the 1953 killing of three demonstrators by the Shah's army. The Shiraz student calls to mind the lone man, that "unknown rebel," who stood up to Chinese tanks during the Tiananmen protests. President-elect Obama says the U.S. should engage Iran. As one of our friends points out, "He has a choice: Engage with what Larijani represents, or engage with the generation of that student."


  2. #2
    December 15, 2008
    On the Hunt in Baghdad

    by Michael J. Totten

    BAGHDAD -- “If your men conduct any raids,” I said to Captain Todd Looney at Combat Outpost Ford on the outskirts of Sadr City, Baghdad, “I want to go.”

    “We might have something come up,” he said. “If so, I'll get you out there.”

    Less than an hour later, one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in all of Iraq was spotted holding a meeting at a house in the area. An arrest warrant had already been issued by the government of Iraq, and Captain Looney's company was the closest to his location. They would be the ones to go get him.

    “Do you still have room for me?” I said.

    “Get your gear,” Captain Looney said.

    Last time I was in Baghdad, in the summer of 2007, I was told that most suspects surrender the instant they realize their house is surrounded. Fighting would be suicidal, and most terror cell leaders do not seek martyrdom. But the guy we were after was far more vicious and crazy than average.

    “Is he the kind of guy who might shoot at us during a raid?” I said to Captain Clint Rusch in the Tactical Operations Center.

    “Oh yeah,” he said. “He's definitely the kind of guy who will shoot at us. He's a really bad dude.” There was even a chance he was wearing suicide vest.

    The tip-off came in over the phone late at night when the terrorist leader's meeting was almost scheduled to be finished. By the time everyone had their gear and was ready to go, we had seventeen minutes or less to drive across a portion of Sadr City and break down the door before the meeting was over.

    We ran to the Humvees.

    “Go with Sergeant Gonzales,” Captain Looney said to me. “When we dismount, catch up to me and stay on me.” He looked angry all of a sudden, but mostly he was just being serious. Any of us might be killed in less than an hour.

    Our convoy of Humvees roared down Baghdad's streets in the dark without headlights. I checked my watch. No time to waste. We had eleven minutes to catch the bastard before his meeting was scheduled to end. Hopefully he and his pals were on “Arab time” and would hang out and drink tea for a while before heading out.


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