Saddam Hussein

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Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti
صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي
Image:Saddam Hussein at trial, July 2004.JPEG

Saddam Hussein during his first appearance before the Iraqi Special Tribunal<small/>

In office
July 16, 1979 – April 9, 2003
Preceded by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Succeeded by Coalition Provisional Authority

Born April 28 1937
Tikrit, Iraq
Political party Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party
Spouse Sajida Talfah
Samira Shahbandar
Nidal al-Hamdani
Religion Sunni Muslim

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majidida al-Tikriti (Arabic: صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتيṣaddām ḥusayn ʿabdu-l-maǧīd al-tikrītī<ref name="ref1">Saddam, pronounced [sˁɑd'dæːm] (see Arabic phonology for details), is his personal name, means the stubborn one or he who confronts in Arabic (in Iraq also a term for a car's bumper). Hussein (Sometimes also transliterated as Hussayn or Hussain) is not a surname in the Western sense but a patronymic; it is his father's given personal name; Abd al-Majid his grandfather's, and al-Tikriti means he was born and raised in (or near) Tikrit. He is commonly referred to as Saddam Hussein, or Saddam for short. The observation that referring to the deposed Iraqi president as only Saddam may be derogatory or inappropriate is based on the mistaken assumption that Hussein is a family name: thus, the New York Times regularly refers to him as "Mr. Hussein"[2], while Encyclopædia Britannica prefers to use simple Saddam [3]. A full discussion can be found here.</ref>; born April 28 1937<ref name="ref2">Under his government, this date was his official date of birth. His real date of birth was never recorded, but it is believed to be a date between 1935 and 1939. From Con Coughlin, Saddam The Secret Life Pan Books, 2003 (ISBN 0-330-39310-3).</ref>), was the President of Iraq from July 16, 1979 until April 9 2003, when he was deposed during the United States-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. As a leading member of the Iraqi Baath Party, which espoused secular pan-Arabism, economic modernization, and Arab socialism, Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought his party to long-term power.

As vice president under his cousin, the frail General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam tightly controlled conflict between the government and the armed forces by creating repressive security forces and cementing his own firm authority over the apparatus of government.

As president, Saddam ran an authoritarian government and maintained power through the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) and the Gulf War (1991). Saddam's government repressed movements that it deemed threatening, particularly those of ethnic or religious groups that sought independence or autonomy. While he remained a popular hero among many Arabs for standing up to Israel and the United States, some in the international community continued to view Saddam with deep suspicion following the 1991 Gulf War.

After the US invasion of Iraq, Saddam was captured by U.S. forces on December 13 2003. On November 5 2006, he was convicted of crimes against humanity by the Iraq Special Tribunal and was sentenced to death by hanging.<ref name=bbc_on_death_sentence>Saddam Hussein sentenced to death, BBC World Service 2006/11/05[4]</ref>



Saddam Hussein was born in the town of Al-Awja, 8 miles (13 km) from the Iraqi town of Tikrit in the Sunni Triangle, to a family of shepherds. His mother, Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, named her newborn son "Saddam", which in Arabic means "One who confronts". He never knew his father, Hussein 'Abd al-Majid, who disappeared six months before Saddam was born. Shortly afterward, Saddam's 13-year-old brother died of cancer, leaving his mother severely depressed in the final months of the pregnancy. The infant Saddam was sent to the family of his maternal uncle, Khairallah Talfah, until he was three.<ref name="ref5">From Elisabeth Bumiller's interview of Jerrold M. Grumpkin, the founder of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior at the CIA in the New York Times (15 May 2004) on the importance of events during Saddam Hussein's youth. It can be read online at [5].</ref>

His mother remarried, and Saddam gained three half-brothers through this marriage. His stepfather, Ibrahim al-Hassan, treated Saddam harshly after his return. At about the age of 10, Saddam fled the family and returned to live in Baghdad with his uncle, Kharaillah Tulfah. Tulfah, the father of Saddam's future wife, was a devout Sunni Muslim. Later in his life, relatives from his native Tikrit would become some of his closest advisors and supporters. According to Saddam, he learned many things from his uncle, a militant Iraqi nationalist. Under the guidance of his uncle, he attended a nationalistic secondary school in Baghdad. In 1957, at age 20, Saddam joined the revolutionary pan-Arab Ba'ath Party, of which his uncle was a supporter.

Revolutionary sentiment was characteristic of the era in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. The stranglehold of the old elites (the conservative monarchists, established families, and merchants) was breaking down in Iraq. Moreover, the populist pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt would profoundly influence the young Ba'athist, even up to the present day. The rise of Nasser foreshadowed a wave of revolutions throughout the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s, which would see the collapse of the monarchies of Iraq, Egypt, and Libya. Nasser challenged the British and French, nationalized the Suez Canal, and strove to modernize Egypt and unite the Arab world politically.

In 1958, a year after Saddam had joined the Ba'ath party, army officers led by General Abdul Karim Qassim overthrew Faisal II of Iraq. The Ba'athists opposed the new government, and in 1959, Saddam was involved in the attempted United States-backed plot to assassinate Qassim.[6]

Saddam was shot in the leg, but escaped to Tikrit with the help of CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. Saddam then crossed into Syria and was transferred to Beirut for a brief CIA training course. From there he moved to Cairo where he made frequent visits to the American embassy. During this time the CIA placed him in an upper-class apartment observed by CIA and Egyptian operatives. (UPI 'analysis' article)

He was sentenced to death in absentia. Saddam studied law at the Cairo University during his exile.

Rise to power

Concerned about Qassim's growing ties to Communists, the CIA gave assistance to the Ba'ath Party and other regime opponents.<ref name="Morris">Morris, Roger, "Remember: Saddam was our man", New York Times, March 14 2003</ref> Army officers with ties to the Ba'ath Party overthrew Qassim in a coup in 1963. Ba'athist leaders were appointed to the cabinet and Abdul Salam Arif became president. Arif dismissed and arrested the Ba'athist leaders later that year. Saddam returned to Iraq, but was imprisoned in 1964. He escaped prison in 1967 and quickly became a leading member of the party. In 1968, Saddam participated in a bloodless coup led by Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr that overthrew Abdul Rahman Arif. al-Bakr was named president and Saddam was named his deputy. Saddam soon became the regime's strongman. According to biographers, Saddam never forgot the tensions within the first Ba'athist government, which informed his measures to promote Ba'ath party unity as well as his ruthless resolve to maintain power and programs to ensure social stability.

Soon after becoming deputy to the president, Saddam demanded and received the rank of four-star general despite his lack of military training.<ref name="Sada">Sada, George, Saddam's Secret</ref>

Saddam Hussein (left) talking with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (right)


Saddam consolidated power in a nation riddled with profound tensions. Long before Saddam, Iraq had been split along social, ethnic, religious, and economic fault lines: Sunni versus Shi'ite, Arab versus Kurd, tribal chief versus urban merchant, nomad versus peasant. Stable rule in a country rife with factionalism required the improvement of living standards. Saddam moved up the ranks in the new government by aiding attempts to strengthen and unify the Ba'ath party and taking a leading role in addressing the country's major domestic problems and expanding the party's following.

Saddam actively fostered the modernization of the Iraqi economy along with the creation of a strong security apparatus to prevent coups within the power structure and insurrections apart from it. Ever concerned with broadening his base of support among the diverse elements of Iraqi society and mobilizing mass support, he closely followed the administration of state welfare and development programs.

At the center of this strategy was Iraq's oil. On June 1, 1972, Saddam oversaw the seizure of international oil interests, which, at the time, had a monopoly on the country's oil. A year later, world oil prices rose dramatically as a result of the 1973 energy crisis, and skyrocketing revenues enabled Saddam to expand his agenda.

Within just a few years, Iraq was providing social services that were unprecedented among Middle Eastern countries. Saddam established and controlled the "National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy" and the campaign for "Compulsory Free Education in Iraq," and largely under his auspices, the government established universal free schooling up to the highest education levels; hundreds of thousands learned to read in the years following the initiation of the program. The government also supported families of soldiers, granted free hospitalization to everyone, and gave subsidies to farmers. Iraq created one of the most modernized public-health systems in the Middle East, earning Saddam an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). [7] [8]

To diversify the largely oil-based economy, Saddam implemented a national infrastructure campaign that made great progress in building roads, promoting mining, and developing other industries. The campaign revolutionized Iraq's energy industries. Electricity was brought to nearly every city in Iraq, and many outlying areas.

Before the 1970s, most of Iraq's people lived in the countryside, where Saddam himself was born and raised, and roughly two-thirds were peasants. But this number would decrease quickly during the 1970s as the country invested much of its oil profits into industrial expansion.

Nevertheless, Saddam focused intensely on fostering loyalty to the Ba'athist government in the rural areas. After nationalizing foreign oil interests, Saddam supervised the modernization of the countryside, mechanizing agriculture on a large scale, and distributing land to peasant farmers.<ref name="ref6">Khadduri, Majid. Socialist Iraq. The Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C., 1978.</ref> The Ba'athists established farm cooperatives, in which profits were distributed according to the labors of the individual and the unskilled were trained. The government's commitment to agrarian reform was demonstrated by the doubling of expenditures for agricultural development in 1974-1975. Moreover, agrarian reform in Iraq improved the living standard of the peasantry and increased production, though not to the levels Saddam had hoped for.

Saddam became personally associated with Ba'athist welfare and economic development programs in the eyes of many Iraqis, widening his appeal both within his traditional base and among new sectors of the population. These programs were part of a combination of "carrot and stick" tactics to enhance support in the working class, the peasantry, and within the party and the government bureaucracy.

Saddam's organizational prowess was credited with Iraq's rapid pace of development in the 1970s; development went forward at such a fevered pitch that two million persons from other Arab countries and Yugoslavia worked in Iraq to meet the growing demand for labor.

In 1976, Saddam rose to the position of general in the Iraqi armed forces, and rapidly became the strongman of the government. At the time Saddam was considered an enemy of Communism and radical Islamism. Saddam was integral to U.S. policy in the region, a policy which sought to weaken the influence of Iran and the Soviet Union.[citation needed] As the weak, elderly al-Bakr became unable to execute his duties, Saddam took on an increasingly prominent role as the face of the government both internally and externally. He soon became the architect of Iraq's foreign policy and represented the nation in all diplomatic situations. He was the de facto ruler of Iraq some years before he formally came to power in 1979. He slowly began to consolidate his power over Iraq's government and the Ba'ath party. Relationships with fellow party members were carefully cultivated, and Saddam soon accumulated a powerful circle of support within the party.


In 1979 al-Bakr started to make treaties with Syria, also under Ba'athist leadership, that would lead to unification between the two countries. Syrian President Hafez al-Assad would become deputy leader in a union, and this would drive Saddam to obscurity. Saddam acted to secure his grip on power. He forced the ailing al-Bakr to resign on July 16, 1979, and formally assumed the presidency.

Shortly afterwards, he convened an assembly of Ba'ath party leaders on July 22, 1979. During the assembly, which he ordered videotaped, Saddam claimed to have found spies and conspirators within the Ba'ath Party and read out the names of 68 members who he thought could oppose him. These members were labeled "disloyal" and were removed from the room one by one and taken into custody. After the list was read, Saddam congratulated those still seated in the room for their past and future loyalty. The 68 people arrested at the meeting were subsequently put on trial, and 22 were sentenced to execution for treason.

Saddam Hussein as a secular leader

Saddam saw himself as a social revolutionary and a modernizer, following the Nasser model. To the consternation of Islamic conservatives, his government gave women added freedoms and offered them high-level government and industry jobs. Saddam also created a Western-style legal system, making Iraq the only country in the Persian Gulf region not ruled according to traditional Islamic law (Sharia). Saddam abolished the Sharia law courts, except for personal injury claims.

Domestic conflict impeded Saddam's modernizing projects. Iraqi society is divided along lines of language, religion and ethnicity; Saddam's government rested on the support of the 20% minority of largely working class, peasant, and lower middle class Sunnis, continuing a pattern that dates back at least to the British mandate authority's reliance on them as administrators.

The Shi'a majority were long a source of opposition to the government's secular policies, and the Ba'ath Party was increasingly concerned about potential Sh'ia Islamist influence following the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Kurds of northern Iraq (who are Sunni Muslims but not Arabs) were also permanently hostile to the Ba'athist party's pan-Arabism. To maintain his regime Saddam tended either to provide them with benefits so as to co-opt them into the regime, or to take repressive measures against them. The major instruments for accomplishing this control were the paramilitary and police organizations. Beginning in 1974, Taha Yassin Ramadan, a close associate of Saddam, commanded the People's Army, which was responsible for internal security. As the Ba'ath Party's paramilitary, the People's Army acted as a counterweight against any coup attempts by the regular armed forces. In addition to the People's Army, the Department of General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) was the most notorious arm of the state security system, feared for its use of torture and assassination. It was commanded by Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's younger half-brother. Since 1982, foreign observers believed that this department operated both at home and abroad in their mission to seek out and eliminate Saddam's perceived opponents.<ref>[9]</ref>

Saddam justified Iraqi nationalism by claiming a unique role of Iraq in the history of the Arab world. As president, Saddam made frequent references to the Abbasid period, when Baghdad was the political, cultural, and economic capital of the Arab world. He also promoted Iraq's pre-Islamic role as Mesopotamia, the ancient cradle of civilization, alluding to such historical figures as Nebuchadrezzar II and Hammurabi. He devoted resources to archaeological explorations. In effect, Saddam sought to combine pan-Arabism and Iraqi nationalism, by promoting the vision of an Arab world united and led by Iraq.

As a sign of his consolidation of power, Saddam's personality cult pervaded Iraqi society. Thousands of portraits, posters, statues and murals were erected in his honor all over Iraq. His face could be seen on the sides of office buildings, schools, airports, and shops, as well as on Iraqi currency. Saddam's personality cult reflected his efforts to appeal to the various elements in Iraqi society. He appeared in the costumes of the Bedouin, the traditional clothes of the Iraqi peasant (which he essentially wore during his childhood), and even Kurdish clothing, but also appeared in Western suits, projecting the image of an urbane and modern leader. Sometimes he would also be portrayed as a devout Muslim, wearing full headdress and robe, praying toward Mecca.

Foreign affairs

In foreign affairs, Saddam sought to have Iraq play a leading role in the Middle East. Iraq signed an aid pact with the Soviet Union in 1972, and arms were sent along with several thousand advisers. However, the 1978 executions of Iraqi Communists and a shift of trade toward the West strained Iraqi relations with the Soviet Union, leading to a more Western orientation from then until the Gulf War in 1991, though Saddam continued to receive the largest share of his armaments from the Soviet bloc.

He made a state visit to France in 1976, cementing close ties with some French business and conservative political circles. Saddam led Arab opposition to the 1979 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. In 1975 he negotiated an accord with Iran that contained Iraqi concessions on border disputes. In return, Iran agreed to stop supporting opposition Kurds in Iraq.

Saddam initiated Iraq's nuclear enrichment project in the 1980s, with French assistance. The first Iraqi nuclear reactor was named by the French "Osirak", a portmanteau formed from "Osiris", the name of the French experimental reactor that served as template and "Irak", the French spelling of "Iraq". Osirak was destroyed by an Israeli air strike (Operation Opera), because Israel suspected it was going to start producing weapons-grade nuclear material.

After Saddam had negotiated the 1975 treaty with Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi withdrew support for the Kurds, who suffered a total defeat. Nearly from its founding as a modern state in 1920, Iraq has had to deal with Kurdish separatists in the northern part of the country. Saddam did negotiate an agreement in 1970 with separatist Kurdish leaders, giving them autonomy, but the agreement broke down. The result was brutal fighting between the government and Kurdish groups and even Iraqi bombing of Kurdish villages in Iran, which caused Iraqi relations with Iran to deteriorate.

The Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988)

Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983
Main article: Iran-Iraq War

In 1979 Iran's Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution, thus giving way to an Islamic republic led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The influence of revolutionary Shi'ite Islam grew apace in the region, particularly in countries with large Shi'ite populations, especially Iraq. Saddam feared that radical Islamic ideas — hostile to his secular rule — were rapidly spreading in southern Iraq among the majority Shi'ite population.

There had also been bitter enmity between Saddam and Khomeini since the 1970s. Khomeini, having been exiled from Iran in 1964, took up residence in Iraq, at the Shi'ite holy city of An Najaf. There he involved himself with Iraqi Shi'ites and developed a strong, worldwide religious and political following. Under pressure from the Shah, who had agreed to a rapprochement between Iraq and Iran in 1975, Saddam agreed to expel Khomeini in 1978.

After Khomeini gained power, skirmishes between Iraq and revolutionary Iran occurred for ten months over the sovereignty of the disputed Arvandrud/Shatt al-Arab waterway, which divides the two countries. During this period, Saddam Hussein continually maintained that it was in Iraq's interest not to engage with Iran, and that it was in the interests of both nations to maintain peaceful relations. However, in a private meeting with Salah Omar Al-Ali, Iraq's permanent ambassador to the United Nations, he revealed that he intended to invade and occupy a large part of Iran within months. Iraq invaded Iran by attacking Mehrabad Airport of Tehran and entering the oil-rich Iranian land of Khuzestan, which also has a sizeable Arab minority, on September 22, 1980 and declared it a new province of Iraq. Most Arab nations and the United States supported him with artillery and medical supplies during this time.

In the first days of the war, there was heavy ground fighting around strategic ports as Iraq launched an attack on Khuzestan. After making some initial gains, Iraq's troops began to suffer losses from human wave attacks by Iran. By 1982, Iraq was on the defensive and looking for ways to end the war. At this point, Saddam asked his ministers for candid advice. Health Minister Riyadh Ibrahim suggested that Saddam temporarily step down to promote peace negotiations. Ibrahim’s chopped up body was delivered to his wife the next day.<ref name="Woods">Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray, "Saddam's Delusions: The View From the Inside", Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006.</ref>

Iraq quickly found itself bogged down in one of the longest and most destructive wars of attrition of the twentieth century. During the war, Iraq used US supplied chemical weapons against Iranian forces fighting on the southern front and Kurdish separatists who were attempting to open up a northern front in Iraq with the help of Iran.

On March 16 1988, the Kurdish town of Halabja was attacked with a mix of mustard gas and nerve agents, killing 5,000 civilians, and maiming, disfiguring, or seriously debilitating 10,000 more. (see Halabja poison gas attack) [10]. The air-terrorist attack occurred in conjunction with the 1988 al-Anfal campaign designed to reassert central control of the mostly Kurdish population of areas of northern Iraq and defeat the Kurdish peshmerga rebel forces. The United States now maintains that Saddam ordered the attack to terrorize the Kurdish population in northern Iraq ([11]), but Saddam's regime claimed at the time that Iran was responsible for the attack<ref name="ref14">ref: Stephen C. Pelletiere, New York Times, January 31 2003: A War Crime or an Act of War?</ref> and the US supported the claim until the early 1990s.

Saddam reached out to other Arab governments for cash and political support during the war, particularly after Iraq's oil industry severely suffered at the hands of the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf. Iraq successfully gained some military and financial aid, as well as diplomatic and moral support, from the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, which together feared the prospects of the expansion of revolutionary Iran's influence in the region. The Iranians, claiming that the international community should force Iraq to pay war reparations to Iran, refused any suggestions for a cease-fire. They continued the war until 1988, hoping to bring down Saddam's secular regime and instigate a Shi'ite rebellion in Iraq.

The bloody eight-year war ended in a stalemate. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties, perhaps upwards of 1.7 million died on both sides. Both economies, previously healthy and expanding, were left in ruins.

Saddam borrowed a tremendous amount of money from other Arab states during the 1980s to fight Iran and was stuck with a war debt of roughly $75 billion. Faced with rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, Saddam desperately sought out cash once again, this time for postwar reconstruction. The desperate search for foreign credit would eventually humiliate the strongman [citation needed] who had long sought to dominate Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East.

Tensions with Kuwait

The end of the war with Iran served to deepen latent tensions between Iraq and its wealthy neighbor Kuwait. Saddam saw his war with Iran as having spared Kuwait from the imminent threat of Iranian domination. Since the struggle with Iran had been fought for the benefit of the other Gulf Arab states as much as for Iraq, he argued, a share of Iraqi debt should be forgiven. Saddam urged the Kuwaitis to forgive the Iraqi debt accumulated in the war, some $30 billion, but the Kuwaitis refused, claiming that Saddam was responsible to pay off his debts for the war he started.

Also to raise money for postwar reconstruction, Saddam pushed oil-exporting countries to raise oil prices by cutting back oil production. Kuwait refused to cut production. In addition to refusing the request, Kuwait spearheaded the opposition in OPEC to the cuts that Saddam had requested. Kuwait was pumping large amounts of oil, and thus keeping prices low, when Iraq needed to sell high-priced oil from its wells to pay off a huge debt.

Meanwhile, Saddam showed disdain for the Kuwait-Iraq boundary line (imposed on Iraq by British imperial officials in 1922) because it almost completely cut Iraq off from the sea. One of the few articles of faith uniting the political scene in a nation rife with sharp social, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic divides was the belief that Kuwait had no right to even exist in the first place. For at least half a century, Iraqi nationalists were espousing emphatically the belief that Kuwait was historically an integral part of Iraq, and that Kuwait had only come into being through the maneuverings of British imperialism.

The colossal extent of Kuwaiti oil reserves also intensified tensions in the region. The oil reserves of Kuwait (with a population of a mere 2 million next to Iraq's 25) were roughly equal to those of Iraq. Taken together, Iraq and Kuwait sat on top of some 20% of the world's known oil reserves; Saudi Arabia, by comparison, holds 25%.

The Kuwaiti monarchy further angered Saddam by allegedly slant drilling oil out of wells that Iraq considered to be within its disputed border with Kuwait. Given that at the time Iraq was not regarded as a pariah state, Saddam was able to complain about the alleged slant drilling to the U.S. State Department. Although this had continued for years, Saddam now needed oil money to stem a looming economic crisis. Saddam still had an experienced and well-equipped army, which he used to influence regional affairs. He later ordered troops to the Iraq-Kuwait border.

As Iraq-Kuwait relations rapidly deteriorated, Saddam was receiving conflicting information about how the U.S. would respond to the prospects of an invasion. For one, Washington had been taking measures to cultivate a constructive relationship with Iraq for roughly a decade. [citation needed] The U.S. also sent billions of dollars to Saddam to keep him from forming a strong alliance with the Soviets. <ref name="ref7">A free-access on-line archive relating to U.S.-Iraq relations in the 1980s is offered by The National Security Archive of the George Washington University. It can be read on line at [12]. The Mount Holyoke International Relations Program also provides a free-access document briefing on U.S.-Iraq relations (1904 - present); this can be accessed on line at [13].</ref>

U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie met with Saddam in an emergency meeting on July 25, 1990, where the Iraqi leader stated his intention to continue talks. U.S. officials attempted to maintain a conciliatory line with Iraq, indicating that while George H. W. Bush and James Baker did not want force used, they would not take any position on the Iraq-Kuwait boundary dispute and did not want to become involved. The transcript, however, does not show any explicit statement of approval of, acceptance of, or foreknowledge of the invasion. Later, Iraq and Kuwait then met for a final negotiation session, which failed. Saddam then sent his troops into Kuwait.

The Gulf War

Main article: Gulf War

On August 2 1990, Saddam invaded and annexed the oil-rich emirate of Kuwait. U.S. President George H. W. Bush responded cautiously for the first several days after the invasion. On the one hand, Kuwait, prior to this point, had been a virulent enemy of Israel and was on friendly terms with the Soviets. On the other hand, Iraq controlled ten percent of the world's crude oil reserves and with the invasion had doubled the percentage. [14] U.S. interests were heavily invested in the region,<ref name="ref8">For a statement asserting the overriding importance of oil to U.S. national security and the U.S. economy, see, e.g., the declassified document, "Responding to Iraqi Aggression in the Gulf," The White House, National Security Directive (NSD 54), top secret, January 15, 1991. This document can be read on line in George Washington University's National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 21 at [15].</ref> and the invasion triggered fears that the price of oil, and therefore the world economy, was at stake. The United Kingdom was also concerned. Britain had a close historical relationship with Kuwait, dating back to British colonialism in the region, and also benefited from billions of dollars in Kuwaiti investment. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher underscored the risk the invasion posed to Western interests to Bush in an in-person meeting one day after the invasion, famously telling him, "Don't go wobbly on me, George". [citation needed]

Cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union made possible the passage of resolutions in the United Nations Security Council giving Iraq a deadline to leave Kuwait and approving the use of force if Saddam did not comply with the timetable. U.S. officials feared that Iraq would retaliate against oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Washington since the 1940s, for the Saudis' opposition to the invasion of Kuwait. Accordingly, the U.S. and a group of allies, including countries as diverse as Egypt, Syria and Czechoslovakia, deployed massive amounts of troops along the Saudi border with Kuwait and Iraq in order to encircle the Iraqi army, the largest in the Middle East.

During the period of negotiations and threats following the invasion, Saddam focused renewed attention on the Palestinian problem by promising to withdraw his forces from Kuwait if Israel would relinquish the occupied territories in the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip. Saddam's proposal further split the Arab world, pitting U.S. and Western-supported Arab states against the Palestinians. The allies ultimately rejected any connection between the Kuwait crisis and Palestinian issues.

Saddam ignored the Security Council deadline. With unanimous backing from the Security Council, a U.S.-led coalition launched round-the-clock missile and aerial attacks on Iraq, beginning January 16, 1991. Israel, though subjected to attack by Iraqi missiles, refrained from retaliating in order not to provoke Arab states into leaving the coalition. A ground force comprised largely of U.S. and British armored and infantry divisions ejected Saddam's army from Kuwait in February 1991 and occupied the southern portion of Iraq as far as the Euphrates. Before leaving, Saddam ordered the oil wells across Kuwait to be torched (see Kuwaiti oil fires).

On March 6, 1991, referring to the conflict, Bush announced: "What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea - a new world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law."

In the end, the over-manned and under-equipped Iraqi army proved unable to compete on the battlefield with the highly mobile coalition land forces and their overpowering air support. Some 175,000 Iraqis were taken prisoner and casualties were estimated at approximately 20,000 according to U.S. data, with other sources pinning the number as high as 100,000. As part of the cease-fire agreement, Iraq agreed to abandon all chemical and biological weapons and allow UN observers to inspect the sites. UN trade sanctions would remain in effect until Iraq complied with all terms.

Gulf War aftermath

Iraq's ethnic and religious divisions, together with the resulting postwar devastation, laid the groundwork for new rebellions within the country. In the aftermath of the fighting, social and ethnic unrest among Shi'a Muslims, Kurds, and dissident military units threatened the stability of Saddam's government. Uprisings began in the Kurdish north and Shi'a southern and central parts of Iraq, but were ruthlessly repressed. In 2005 the BBC reported that as many as 30,000 persons had been killed during the 1991 uprisings [16].

The United States, which had urged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam, did nothing to assist the rebellions and even lifted the Iraqi no-fly zones which allowed Saddam's forces to crush the rebellions. U.S. ally Turkey opposed any prospect of Kurdish independence, and the Saudis and other conservative Arab states feared an Iran-style Shi'a revolution. Saddam, having survived the immediate crisis in the wake of defeat and a car crash, which left a small scar in his face and a injury on a finger, according to his now defected personal doctor, was left firmly in control of Iraq, although the country never recovered either economically or militarily from the Persian Gulf War. Saddam routinely cited his survival as "proof" that Iraq had in fact won the war against America. This message earned Saddam a great deal of popularity in many sectors of the Arab world.

Saddam increasingly portrayed himself as a devout Muslim, in an effort to co-opt the conservative religious segments of society. Some elements of Sharia law were re-introduced, such as the 2001 edict imposing the death penalty for sodomy, rape, and prostitution, the legalization of "honor killings" and the ritual phrase "Allahu Akbar". "God is the greatest", in Saddam's handwriting, was added to the national flag.


Relations between the United States and Iraq remained tense following the Gulf War. In April of 1993 the Iraqi Intelligence Service, it is alleged, attempted to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait. Kuwaiti security forces apprehended a group of Iraqis at the scene of an alleged bombing attempt. On June 26, 1993, the U.S. launched a missile attack targeting Baghdad intelligence headquarters in retaliation for the alleged attempt to attack former President Bush. [17][18]

The UN sanctions placed upon Iraq when it invaded Kuwait were not lifted, blocking Iraqi oil exports. This caused immense hardship in Iraq and virtually destroyed the Iraqi economy and state infrastructure. Only smuggling across the Syrian border and humanitarian aid (the UN Oil-for-Food Programme) ameliorated the humanitarian crisis. Limited amounts of income from the United Nations started flowing into Iraq through the UN Oil-for-Food Programme.

U.S. officials continued to accuse Saddam Hussein of violating the terms of the Gulf War's cease fire, by developing weapons of mass destruction and other banned weaponry, refusing to give out adequate information on these weapons, and violating the UN-imposed sanctions and no-fly zones. Isolated military strikes by U.S. and British forces continued on Iraq sporadically, the largest being Operation Desert Fox in 1998. Charges of Iraqi impediment to UN inspection of sites thought to contain illegal weapons were claimed as the reasons for crises between 1997 and 1998, culminating in intensive U.S. and British missile strikes on Iraq, December 16-December 19, 1998. After two years of intermittent activity, U.S. and British warplanes struck harder at sites near Baghdad in February, 2001.

Saddam's support base of Tikriti tribesmen, family members, and other supporters were divided after the war. In the following years, this contributed to the government's increasingly repressive and arbitrary nature. Domestic repression inside Iraq grew worse, and Saddam's sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, became increasingly powerful and carried out a private reign of terror. They likely had a leading hand when, in August 1995, two of Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law (Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel), who held high positions in the Iraqi military, defected to Jordan. Both were killed after returning to Iraq the following February.

Iraqi cooperation with UN weapons inspection teams was questioned on several occasions during the 1990s and UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Richard Butler withdrew his team from Iraq in November 1998 citing Iraqi non-cooperation, without the permission of the UN, although a UN spokesman subsequently stated that "the bulk of" the Security Council supported the move [19]. After a crisis ensued and the U.S. contemplated military action against Iraq, Saddam resumed cooperation. [20] The inspectors returned, but were withdrawn again on 16 December <ref name="ref9">Richard BUTLER, Saddam Defiant, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2000, p. 224</ref>. Butler had given a report the UN Security Council on 15 December in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the level of compliance. Three out of five of the Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council subsequently objected to Butler's withdrawal.

Saddam continued to loom large in American consciousness as a major threat to Western allies such as Israel and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, to Western oil supplies from the Gulf states, and to Middle East stability generally. U.S. President Bill Clinton maintained economic sanctions, as well as air patrols in the "Iraqi no-fly zones". In October 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act.[21] The act calls for "regime change" in Iraq and authorizes the funding of opposition groups. Following the issuance of a UN report detailing Iraq's failure to cooperate with inspections, Clinton authorized Operation Desert Fox, a three-day air-strike to hamper Saddam's weapons-production facilities and hit sites related to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq responded by expelling UN inspectors.

Several journalists have reported on Saddam's ties to anti-Israeli and Islamic terrorism prior to 2000. Saddam is also known to have had contacts with Palestinian terrorist groups. Early in 2002, Saddam told Faroq al-Kaddoumi, head of the Palestinian political office, he would raise the sum granted to each family of Palestinians who die as suicide bombers in the uprising against Israel to $25,000 instead of $10,000.[22] Some news reports detailed links to terrorists, including Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas and Osama bin Laden.[23] However, no conclusive evidence concerning links between Saddam and bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization has ever been produced by any US government official. The official assessment by the U.S. Intelligence Community is that contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda over the years did not lead to a collaborative relationship. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was able to find evidence of only one such meeting, as well as evidence of two occasions "not reported prior to the war, in which Saddam Hussein rebuffed meeting requests from an al-Qa'ida operative. The Intelligence Community has not found any other evidence of meetings between al-Qa'ida and Iraq."[24] The Senate Committee concluded that there was no evidence of any Iraqi support of al-Qaeda and that there was convincing evidence of hostility between the two entities.

2003 Invasion of Iraq

On April 4 2003, satellite channels worldwide broadcast footage of the besieged Iraqi leader touring the streets of his bombed capital. Smoke was emanating from oil fires in the distance. As U.S.-led ground troops were marching toward the capital, a smiling Saddam Hussein greeted cheering, chanting crowds in the streets of Baghdad.<ref name="ref10">For further details see Globe and Mail Update, "Hussein does Baghdad walkabout" [1] 4 April 2003.</ref>
Main article: 2003 Invasion of Iraq

The domestic political situation changed in the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 attacks, which bolstered the influence of the neoconservative faction in the presidential administration and throughout Washington. Bush and his cabinet repeatedly linked the Hussein government to the 9/11 attacks on the basis of an alleged meeting in Prague in April 2001 involving an Iraqi intelligence agent and other evidence.<ref name="Mylroie">Mylroie, Laurie, "The Saddam-9/11 Link Confirmed",, May 11 2004</ref>. Both a Senate Select Committee and the 9/11 Commission failed to uncover convincing evidence of such a link.<ref>United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Retrieved 10 September 2006. </ref><ref>United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Retrieved 10 September, 2006. </ref><ref> Section 10.3, The 9/11 Commission Report (2004). Retrieved 10 September 2006. </ref> In his January 2002 state-of-the-union message to Congress, President George W. Bush spoke of an "axis of evil" comprised of Iran, North Korea, and Iraq. Moreover, Bush announced that he would possibly take action to topple the Iraqi government. Bush stated, "The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade." Bush went on to say "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror."<ref name="ref12">The full text of Bush's 2002 State of the Union address can be read on line (BBC News) at [25].</ref>

As the war was looming on February 24 2003, Saddam Hussein talked with CBS News anchor Dan Rather for more than three hours — his first interview with a U.S. reporter in over a decade.<ref name="ref13">Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein leading up to the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq on 20 March can be read on line ( at [26].</ref> CBS aired the taped interview later that week.

The Iraqi government and military collapsed within three weeks of the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq on March 20. The United States made at least two attempts to kill Saddam with targeted air strikes, but both failed to hit their target. By the beginning of April, Coalition forces occupied much of Iraq. The resistance of the much-weakened Iraqi Army either crumbled or shifted to guerrilla warfare, and it appeared that Saddam had lost control of Iraq. He was last seen in a video which purported to show him in the Baghdad suburbs surrounded by supporters. When Baghdad fell to the Coalition on April 9, Saddam was still preparing to leave.

Pursuit and capture


As the US forces were occupying the Republican Palace and other central landmarks and ministries on April 9, Saddam Hussein had emerged from his command bunker beneath the Al A'Zamiyah district of northern Baghdad and greeted excited members of the local public. In the BBC Panorama programme Saddam on the Run witnesses were found for these and other later events (see Note 15). This impromptu walkabout was probably his last and his reasons for doing what was certainly extremely dangerous and almost cost him his freedom, if not his life, are unclear. It is possible that he wished to take what he thought might be his last opportunity to greet his people as their president. The walkabout was captured on film and broadcast several days after the event on Al-Arabiya Television and was also witnessed by ordinary people who corroborated the date afterwards. He was accompanied by bodyguards and other loyal supporters including at least one of his sons and his personal secretary.

After the walk about Saddam returned to his bunker and made preparations for his family. According to his eldest daughter Raghad Hussein he was by this point aware of the "betrayal" of a number of key figures involved in the defence of Baghdad. It appears there was a lot of confusion between Iraqi commanders in different sectors of the capital and communication between them and Saddam and between Saddam and his family were becoming increasingly difficult. This version of events is supported by Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf (at the time, referred to as "Baghdad Bob" and "Comical Ali" due to his consistent denials that US and British forces had made any progress towards Baghdad), the former Information Minister who struggled to know what was actually happening after the US captured Baghdad International Airport.

The Americans had meanwhile started receiving rumours that Saddam was in Al A'Zamiyah and at dawn on April 10 they dispatched three companies of US Marines to capture or kill him. As the Americans closed in, and realising that Baghdad was lost, Saddam arranged for cars to collect his eldest daughters Raghad and Rana and drive them to Syria. His wife Sajida Talfah and youngest daughter Hala had already left Iraq several weeks prior. Raghad Hussein stated in an interview for Panorama;

  • "After about midday my Dad sent cars from his private collection for us. We were told to get in. We had almost lost contact with my father and brothers because things had got out of hand. I saw with my own eyes the [Iraqi] army withdrawing and the terrified faces of the Iraqi soldiers who, unfortunately, were running away and looking around them. Missiles were falling on my left and my right - they were not more than fifty or one hundred metres away. We moved in small cars. I had a gun between my feet just in case." (Attributed to Raghad Hussein)

Then according to the testimony of a former bodyguard Saddam Hussein dismissed almost his entire staff;

  • "The last time I saw him he said: My sons, each of you go to your homes. We said: Sir, we want to stay with you. Why should we go? But he insisted. Even his son, Qusay, was crying a little. He [Saddam] was trying not to show his feelings. He was stressed but he didn't want to destroy the morale of the people who were watching him, but inside, he was definitely broken." (Attributed to an anonymous former bodyguard)

After this he changed out of his uniform and with only two bodyguards to guard him, left Baghdad in a plain white Oldsmobile and made his way to a specially prepared bunker in Dialah on the northern outskirts of the city.

Ayad Allawi in interview stated that Saddam stayed in the Dialah bunker for three weeks as Baghdad and the rest of Iraq were occupied by US forces. Initially he and his entourage used satellite telephones to communicate with each other. As this became more risky they resorted to sending couriers with written messages. One of these couriers was reported to have been his own nephew. However, their cover was given away when one of the couriers was captured and Saddam was forced to evacuate the Dialah bunker and resorted to changing location every few hours. There were numerous sightings of him in Beiji, Baquba and Tikrit to the north of Baghdad over the next few months as he shuttled between safe houses disguised as a shepherd in a plain taxi. How close he came to being captured during this period may never be made public. Sometime in the middle of May he moved to the countryside around his home town of Tikrit.

A series of audio tapes claiming to be from Saddam were released at various times, although the authenticity of these tapes remains uncertain.

Saddam Hussein was at the top of the U.S. list of most-wanted Iraqis, and many of the other leaders of the Iraqi government were arrested, but extensive efforts to find him had little effect. In June in a joint raid by special operations forces and the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, they captured the former president's personal secretary Abid Hamid Mahmud, Ace of Diamonds and number 4 after Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay. Documents discovered with him enabled intelligence officers to work out who was who in Saddam's circle. Manhunts were launched nightly throughout the Sunni triangle. Safe houses and family homes were raided as soon as any tip came in that someone in Saddam's circle might be in the area.

In July 2003 in an engagement with U.S. forces after a tip-off from an Iraqi informant Saddam's sons were cornered in a house in Mosul and shot to death.

According to one of Saddam's bodyguards, the former president actually went to the grave himself on the evening of the funeral:

  • "After the funeral people saw Saddam Hussein visiting the graves with a group of his protectors. No one recognized them and even the car they came in wasn't spotted. At the grave Saddam read a verse from the Koran and cried. There were flags on the grave. After he finished reading, he took the flags and left. He cried for his sons." [citation needed]

This story, however, likely resulted to explain the missing flags. The commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment in Tikrit and Auja, where the sons were buried, had the cemetery heavily guarded. The flags were removed by US forces to prevent his sons being honored as martyrs. These flags now reside at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The raids and arrests of people known to be close to the former President drove him deeper underground. Once more the trail was growing colder. In August the US military released photo-fits of how Saddam might be disguising himself in traditional garb, hair died grey, even without his signature moustache. By the early autumn the Pentagon had also formed a secret unit – Taskforce 121. Using electronic surveillance and undercover agents, the CIA and Special Forces scoured Iraq for clues.

By the beginning of November Saddam was under siege. His home town and powerbase were surrounded and his faithful bodyguards targeted and then arrested one by one by the Americans. Protests erupted in several towns in the Sunni triangle. Meanwhile some Sunni Muslims showed their support for Saddam.

On December 12 Mohamed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit was unexpectedly captured in Baghdad. Mohamed had been a key figure in the President's special security organization. His cousin Adnan had been captured in July by the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment in Tikrit. It appears Mohamed had taken control of Saddam on the run, the only person who knew where he was from hour to hour and who was with him. According to US sources it took just a few hours of interrogation for him to crack and betray Saddam.

Within hours Colonel James Hickey (1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division) together with US Special Operations Forces launched Operation Red Dawn and under cover of darkness made for the village of Ad-Dawr on the outskirts of Tikrit. The informer had told US forces the former president would be in one of two groups of buildings on a farm codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2.


Saddam Hussein shortly after his capture

On December 13 2003, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran first reported that Saddam Hussein had been arrested, citing Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. These reports were soon confirmed by other members of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, by U.S. military sources, and by British prime minister Tony Blair. In a press conference in Baghdad, shortly afterwards, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him." Bremer reported that Saddam had been captured at approximately 8:30 p.m. Iraqi time on December 13, in an underground "spider hole" at a farmhouse in ad-Dawr near his home town Tikrit, in what was called Operation Red Dawn. [27]

During the arrest Hussein reportedly said: "I am the President of Iraq," — to which an American soldier replied: "The President of The United States sends his regards."

Bremer presented video footage of Saddam in custody. Saddam Hussein was shown with a full beard and hair longer and curlier than his familiar appearance, which a barber later restored. His identity was later reportedly confirmed by DNA testing. He was described as being in good health and as "talkative and co-operative". Bremer said that Saddam would be tried, but that the details of his trial had not yet been determined. Members of the Governing Council who spoke with Saddam after his capture reported that he was unrepentant, claiming to have been a "firm but just ruler". Later it emerged that the tip-off which led to his capture came from a detainee under interrogation.

Shortly after his capture, Saddam Hussein was shown on a Department of Defense video on Al-Jazeera receiving a medical examination.


According to US military sources, immediately after his capture on December 13 Saddam was hooded and his hands were bound. He was taken by a military HMMWV vehicle to a waiting helicopter and then flown to the US base located in and adjacent to one of his former palaces in Tikrit. At this base he was paraded before jubilant US soldiers and a series of photographs were taken. After a brief pause he was loaded onto another helicopter and flown to the main US base at Baghdad International Airport and transferred to the Camp Cropper facility. Here he was photographed officially and had his long beard shaved. The next day he was visited in his cell by members of the Iraqi Governing Council including Ahmed Chalabi and Adnan Pachachi. It is believed that he has stayed at this high security location for the majority of time since his capture. Details of his interrogation are unknown. There were rumours that he was flown out of Iraq during a dangerous upsurge in the insurgency during 2004 but this now seems unlikely.

On May 20 2005, Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid newspapers The Sun of U.K. and New York Post, printed photos of Saddam Hussein in his jail cell wearing only his briefs with the headline "Tyrant's in his pants".


Hussein during his first appearance before the Tribunal.
  • On June 30 2004, Saddam Hussein (held in custody by U.S. forces at Camp Cropper in Baghdad), and 11 senior Ba'athist officials were handed over legally (though not physically) to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Particular attention will be paid to his activities in violent campaigns against the Kurds in the north during the Iran-Iraq War, and against the Shiites in the south in 1991 and 1999 to put down revolts.
  • On July 1 2004, the first legal hearing in Saddam's case was held before the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Broadcast later on Arabic and Western television networks, it was his first appearance in footage aired around the world since his capture by U.S. forces the previous December.
  • On July 18 2005, Saddam was charged by the Special Tribunal with the first of an expected series of charges, relating to the mass killings of the inhabitants of the village of Dujail in 1982 after a failed assassination attempt against him.
  • On August 8 2005, the family announced that the legal team had been dissolved and that the only Iraq-based member, Khalil al-Duleimi, had been made sole legal counsel. [28]
  • On December 5 2005 and December 6 2005, Hussein and his lawyers vehemently opposed the authority of the court; the lawyers walked out, and Saddam told the judge to "Go to hell." [29]
  • On March 15 2006, Saddam was called by the prosecution as a witness. On the stand, he made several political statements, saying he was still President of Iraq and calling on Iraqis to stop fighting each other and instead fight American troops. The judge turned off Saddam's microphone and closed the trial to the public in response. [31].
  • On June 21 2006, the chief defense attorney for Hussein and his brothers, Khamis al-Obeidi, was kidnapped and killed. [32]. Hussein began a hunger strike in protest to the assassination, which he quit by June 23. [33]
  • On July 13 2006, it was reported that Saddam and "other former regime members" had begun another hunger strike on July 7 to protest the lack of fairness in their trial including the murder of defense lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi. By July 23 2006, he was taken to the hospital and force-fed by tube [34]. He later claimed this to have been against his will [35].
  • On September 15 2006, The chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri, a Shiite Arab, told the ex-president, "You were not a dictator." Demands from Kurdish and Shiite officials for his removal followed; the judge already had rejected prosecution demands that he step down for allegedly favoring the defense [36]. He was soon replaced by Mohammed al-Uraibiy, al-Amiri's court deputy and also a Shiite Arab, replaced al-Amiri as a chief judge. [37]
Image:Saddam verdict.png
Saddam as he is being sentenced
  • On November 5 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity in ordering the deaths of 148 Shi'ite villagers in the town of Dujail in 1982 and sentenced to death by hanging. His half brother and the judge at the trial of the original case in 1982 were also convicted of similar charges. When the judge announced the verdict, Saddam shouted "God is great!" and "Long live Iraq. Long live the Iraqi people! Down with the traitors!" [38] [39] [40] [41]. According to the New York Times, Saddam Hussein's verdict and sentence would "come under review by the nine-judge appellate chamber of the trial court. There is no time limit for the appeal court's review, but Iraqi and American officials who work with the court said that the earliest realistic date for Saddam Hussein's execution, assuming it stood up to review, would be next spring." [42] Iraqi law requires executions to take place within 30 days of the end of the appeal process; however it also forbids the executions of people aged over 70 years old, a status Saddam Hussein acquires on 28 April 2007. [43]

Marriage and family relationships

Saddam married Sajida Talfah in 1963. Sajida is the daughter of Khairallah Talfah, Saddam's uncle and mentor. Their marriage was arranged when Saddam was 5 and Sajida was 7; however, the two didn't meet until their wedding. They were married in Egypt during his exile. They had two sons (Uday and Qusay) and three daughters, Rana, Raghad and Hala. Uday controlled the media, and was named Journalist of the Century by the Iraqi Union of Journalists. Qusay ran the elite Republican Guard, and was considered Saddam's heir. Both brothers made a fortune smuggling oil. Sajida, Raghad, and Rana were put under house arrest because they were suspected of being involved in an attempted assassination of Uday on December 12, 1996. General Adnan Khairallah Tuffah, Sajida's brother and Saddam's childhood friend, was allegedly executed because of his growing popularity.

Saddam also married two other women: Samira Shahbandar, whom he married in 1986 after forcing her husband to divorce her (she is rumored to be his favorite wife), and Nidal al-Hamdani, the general manager of the Solar Energy Research Center in the Council of Scientific Research, whose husband was apparently also persuaded to divorce his wife. There have apparently been no political issues from these latter two marriages. Saddam has another son, Ali, from Samira.

Saddam with his daughter, Rana Hussein.

In August 1995, Rana and her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid and Raghad and her husband, Saddam Kamel al-Majid, defected to Jordan, taking their children with them. They returned to Iraq when they received assurances that Saddam Hussein would pardon them. Within three days of their return in February 1996, both of the Majid brothers were attacked and killed in a gunfight with other clan members who considered them traitors. Saddam had made it clear that although pardoned, they would lose all status and would not receive any protection.

Saddam's daughter Hala is married to Jamal Mustafa Sultan al-Tikriti, the deputy head of Iraq's Tribal Affairs Office. Neither has been known to be involved in politics. Jamal surrendered to U.S. troops in April 2003. Another cousin was Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known in the United States as "Chemical Ali," who was accused of ordering the use of poison gas in 1988. Ali is now in U.S. custody. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Baghdad's airport (Saddam International Airport) was named after him until April 3, 2003 when U.S. forces seized control of the airport, renaming the airport to its current name.

In August 2003, Saddam's daughters Raghad and Rana received sanctuary in Amman, Jordan, where they are currently staying with their nine children. That month, they spoke with CNN and the Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya in Amman. When asked about her father, Raghad told CNN, "He was a very good father, loving, has a big heart." Asked if she wanted to give a message to her father, she said: "I love you and I miss you." Her sister Rana also remarked, "He had so many feelings and he was very tender with all of us." <ref name="ref13">For coverage of the postwar CNN and Al-Arabiya interviews with Saddam's daughters, see [44]</ref>

In 2005 a GQ interview [45] of four American National Guardsmen from Pennsylvania whose job was to guard Saddam after his capture quoted Saddam as saying, "Reagan and me, good... The Clinton, he's okay. The Bush father, son, no good." According to the soldiers Reagan was a favorite topic of Saddam's. Saddam told them about how Reagan sold him "planes and helicopters" and "basically funded his war against Iran." Saddam told them that he "wish things were like when Ronald Reagan was still president."

Detroit awarded Saddam Hussein a key to the city in 1980, because of contributions to several local Detroit Catholic Churches, in particular a $170,000 donation to a church that was in heavy debt [46][47].

Government positions held by Saddam Hussein

  • Head of Security (Mukhabarat) 1963
  • Vice President of the Republic of Iraq 1968 - 1979
  • President of the Republic of Iraq 1979 - 2003
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq (various non-continuous dates)
  • Head of the Revolutionary Command Council 1979 - 2003


<references />


  • PBS Frontline (2003), "The survival of Saddam: secrets of his life and leadership: interview with Saïd K. Aburish" at [48]
  • BBC News, 16 October 2000 [49] -->
  • Panorama, BBC One March 28 2004 : Saddam on the run : Produced by Chris Woods and Presented by Jane Corbin

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
President of Iraq
July 16, 1979April 9, 2003
Succeeded by:
Position Abolished
Coalition Provisional Authority with Jay Garner as Director of Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance
Preceded by:
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Prime Minister of Iraq
Succeeded by:
Sa'dun Hammadi
Preceded by:
Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai
Prime Minister of Iraq
Succeeded by:
Iyad Allawi

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Saddam Hussein

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