Saddam Hussein, also spelled Ṣaddām Ḥusayn, was a prominent political figure who served as the President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. His rule was characterized by a brutal regime, costly wars, and a contentious relationship with the international community. Born on April 28, 1937, in Al-ʿAwjah, Iraq, Saddam rose to power through the Baʿath Party and became a central figure in Iraqi politics.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Saddam Hussein was born into poverty in a village near Tikrīt in northern Iraq. His father passed away before his birth, and he was raised by an uncle in Baghdad. These humble beginnings played a significant role in shaping his political outlook. He joined the Baʿath Party in 1957 and, in 1959, took part in a failed assassination attempt on the Iraqi Prime Minister, ʿAbd al-Karīm Qāsim. After being wounded in the attempt, Saddam sought refuge in Syria and later Egypt. He pursued higher education, attending Cairo Law School in 1962–63 and Baghdad Law College after the Baʿathists regained power in Iraq in 1963. However, the Baʿathists were ousted that same year, leading to Saddam's imprisonment. He eventually escaped and became a prominent member of the Baʿath Party, playing a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party back to power. Notably, in 1972, Saddam led the nationalization of Iraq's oil industry.
Presidency[edit | edit source]
Saddam Hussein began asserting control over the government in 1979 and assumed the presidency after President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr's resignation. He held several key positions in the government, including Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and Prime Minister. Saddam used a vast secret police apparatus to suppress internal dissent and cultivated a cult of personality around himself among the Iraqi populace. His overarching objectives were to establish Iraq as the leader of the Arab world and achieve dominance in the Persian Gulf region.
Saddam's most notable military venture was the invasion of Iran's oil fields in September 1980, which led to a protracted and costly war. The Iran-Iraq War continued until 1988 when both countries accepted a ceasefire, ending the fighting. Despite the enormous foreign debt Iraq accrued, Saddam maintained a robust military.
In August 1990, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, hoping to benefit from its substantial oil revenues. This action prompted a global trade embargo against Iraq, with calls for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The Gulf War began on January 16, 1991, and concluded six weeks later with the liberation of Kuwait by a U.S.-led coalition. Subsequently, internal uprisings by Shiʿis and Kurds were crushed by Saddam, leading to mass casualties and displacements. Iraq was left in economic turmoil, and Saddam's refusal to comply with UN disarmament efforts resulted in severe sanctions.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001, the U.S. government, concerned about potential links between Saddam Hussein and terrorist groups, sought to renew the disarmament process. Although Saddam allowed UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq, his lack of full cooperation frustrated the United States and Great Britain, ultimately leading to military intervention. On March 17, 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush issued an ultimatum to Saddam, demanding his resignation and departure from Iraq or face military action. When Saddam chose not to leave, U.S. and allied forces launched an invasion on March 20, resulting in the downfall of his regime.
Saddam Hussein's legacy is one of authoritarian rule, aggressive foreign policy, and the suffering of the Iraqi people. His rule ended with the U.S.-led invasion, and he was eventually captured, tried, and executed in December 2006, marking the end of an era in Iraqi history.
Questions & Answer about Saddam[edit | edit source]
When did Saddam Hussein die?[edit | edit source]
Saddam Hussein was executed on December 30, 2006, according to the sentence of an Iraqi tribunal.
Where did Saddam Hussein grow up?[edit | edit source]
Saddam Hussein was born in a village near the city of Tikrīt, Iraq. At a young age, he moved to Baghdad to live with his uncle.
How did Saddam Hussein influence the world?[edit | edit source]
To assert Iraq’s hegemony over its neighbours, Saddam led Iraq into war with Iran in the Iran-Iraq War and with Kuwait in the lead-up to the Persian Gulf War. His refusal to cooperate fully with international inspections for proscribed weapons led to the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and allies in the Iraq War.
Who ordered Saddam Hussein death?
Rauf Rashid Abd al-Rahman (born c. 1941) is the replacement chief judge of the Al-Dujail trial of Saddam Hussein in 2006, when he sentenced Saddam and some of his top aides to death by hanging.
What religion was Saddam Hussein?[edit | edit source]
Saddam adhered to an eccentric interpretation of Islam that Ba'thist intellectuals had developed in the mid-twentieth century. For him and many other Ba'thists, Islam was the religion of the Arabs. Muhammad was an Arab prophet who preached a divine message intended for his Arab followers.
What is Saddam Hussein known for?[edit | edit source]
Saddam ruled Iraq with an iron fist for almost 30 years. To maintain power for so long, he used fear, intimidation and violence like few other dictators in history, but in the end, even that was not enough. Convinced of his own invincibility, Saddam provoked an American invasion—and lost both his power and his life.