BAGHDAD, July 28 (Reuters) – State television is working overtime to persuade Iraqis to help Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confront an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized wide tracts of the country, but its unifying call has been blunted by his sectarian reputation.
Since the humiliating loss of much of Iraq’s north to Islamic State insurgents, the official Iraqiya channel has been churning out patriotic videos of marching soldiers, heavily-armed commandos and even singers and actors to rally the public behind the government.
The theatrics are reminiscent of life under Saddam Hussein, whose propaganda machine put a positive spin on disasters like his 1990 invasion of Kuwait or 1980-88 war with Iran.
Instead of increasing confidence in Maliki, the campaign has highlighted what critics say is the Shi’ite Muslim premier’s failure to unite Iraq against Islamist insurgents who have put the country’s survival as a unified state in jeopardy.
“We laugh, of course with pain, when the government repeats the same bullshit as Saddam,” said Qassim Sabti, a 60-year-old artist.
Mohamed Abdul Jabar al-Shaboot, head of the Iraqi Media Network that broadcasts Iraqiya, said feedback on the videos had been generally good across Iraq’s communal spectrum.
“There have been some voices that did not approve of these kind of activities, saying they recalled the patriotic songs that filled TV screens under Saddam Hussein,” he told Reuters…
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A bad sign indeed.