Â TheÂ video below, taken on January 10, 2012, shows a dead 4-month old girl toddler named Afaf Mahmoud Salaki with torture marks on her back. She and her mother travelled to Tartous, a region controlled by the Shabeeha. The toddler was returned to her father but the mother is still missing.
The men commenting in the video curse the Assad regime but they also curse the Arab League and its leadership. This is a new phenomenon in the Arab world of a street getting smarter about how touchable these men are.Â Â
The west should be very concerned about this new Arab anger that may look aimless today but may morph into a new and unpredictable threat. Support of despotic and corrupt regimes is not the answer.Â
Â Syrians are divided into two recipients-of-information groups today:Â The YouTube generation and, those unable to YouTube, the al-Jazeera generation. Both have tremendous effect on public opinion but more so the You Tubers because of the average age of Arab youths (In Syria, it stands at 21).
The above video was watched on YouTube 17,000 times. But unlike in the west where one million hits happen in the comfort of one’s home and a video is completely watched, 17,000 hits in the Arab world is misleading. Why? Because viewers watch long enough to understand but stop short of finishing in the hope systems monitoring their precise Internet page visits will be unable to score that visit. It’s a natural response to the mechanism of police states.
Often, they also stop watching because of the horrors they see before their eyes. A tortured 4-month toddler is not exactly a rock concert.Â
The effect ofÂ the YouTube generation is still making its mark. No Arab government can control that generation and it is a question of time before al-Jazeera loses its grip the way many news programming in developed nations are losing their readerships and viewers to Blogs and Internet news outlets controlled by their peers.Â