Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Wessam, 21, owns a small kiosk selling CDs in Al-Alawai district in downtown Baghdad. He is trying to keep up with the demand for patriotic music, a genre that has sharply risen in popularity since the government gave instructions for the anthems to be played at checkpoints and ministries. The orders reflected a drive to raise the morale of the security forces following the sweeping gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The songs have jogged the memory of many Iraqis, especially the older generations who recall the days of the Iraq–Iran war and the Gulf War of 1991, as well as the subsequent militarization and national fervor that took hold of the country.
Abo-Abdullah, a soldier standing guard at the gates of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, now administered by Acting Minister of Defense Saadoun Al-Dulaimi, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Patriotic songs should engender soldiers’ enthusiasm, strengthen their determination and raise the morale of both soldiers and the people to withstand the foreign parties’ attempts to instill fear and despair among them.”
He added: “The prime ministry gave instructions to play these songs at checkpoints along the streets and in front of the headquarters of government departments in the capital, Baghdad.”
Ordinary Iraqis have been championing the Iraqi Army, even as contradictory news reports emerge of battles won and lost on the frontlines.
Meanwhile, composer Jabbar Al-Tamimi, who is working on producing a song for the Iraqi Cinema and Theater Department, says: “The song speaks of several Iraqi provinces, aiming at sending a message to the world that Iraq does not suffer sectarianism and that we all are brothers against the danger facing Iraq.”
Now, preparations are under way to perform an operetta entitled Unified Iraq in the National Theater in downtown Baghdad, in the presence of a group of artists, intellectuals, scholars and troops.
Tamimi says: “Mobilization work requires a lot of effort, and Iraq needs to adopt a firm stance against its enemies. Everyone should adopt a stance, each according to his circumstances and expertise.”