Saddam Hussein At-Tikrit was the president of Iraq
, and took his country into a whole lot of fighting. He was born 28 April 1937
near Tikrit in the Saladin province of Iraq to a poor
family. His father
died or deserted the family when Hussein was yery young, and when his mother
remarried, his stepfather
treated him quite badly. When he was ten, Hussein went to live with an uncle
; there at sixteen he tried to enter the country's elite Military Academy
. Refused admission for bad grades, he turned to revolutionary
At 20 he joined the Ba'th Socialist party and participated in an attempted coup in 1959. When it failed, he fled to Syria and then Egypt (having been sentenced to death in absentia), attending law school in Cairo and returning to Baghdad when his party gained control in 1963. When the Ba'thists were overthrown shortly thereafter, Hussein spent a few years in Iraqi prison.
He escaped from prison in 1967, becoming a leader of the Ba'thists, who regained power in 1968, and essentially acting as co-president with the elected President Bakr (Hussein's cousin), and caused the nationalization of the country's oil industry, formerly run by Western companies, in 1972. During the 1970s, he also finished his law degree and got a Master of Arts in Military Science. (He would later receive an honorary doctorate in law.) When Bakr resigned, Hussein became official president in 1979. Six days later, he condemned about 20 leading party members to death for conspiracy. After that, he became prime minister and head of the Revolutionary Council in addition to being president, giving him a stranglehold on the country's politics. He built up a cult of personality within Iraq and said his goals were to overcome Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to become leader of the Arab world and to increase Iraqi standards of living with oil money.
In 1980 Iraq invaded neighboring Iran for its oil fields, but the Iranians fought back and the war was essentially a stalemate. Paying for the war caused Hussein to scale back on his other plans, and still put the country in debt. When the war ended in 1988, Hussein did not stop building up his military forces. The point of this became clear when Iraq overran the small country of Kuwait in August 1990; Kuwait's oil would have boosted the Iraqi economy greatly. However, other countries started first a trade blockade and then a United Nations resolution to use force to end the occupation of Kuwait. United States-led forces took six weeks to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait in the Gulf War, and groups within Iraq (Kurds and Shi'ite Muslims) tried to take advantage of the situation to rebel. However, the UN forces stopped when they had liberated Kuwait, and Hussein's troops were able to put down the internal rebellions.
(Saddam Hussein's relatives formed the core of his trusted advising group; he has brought many of them from Tikrit and put them in high positions. He has married twice; his first wife Sajida is the mother of his first two sons and three daughters, and his second wife Samira is mother of his youngest son Ali. The oldest son, Uday, was put on trial in 1988 for murdering his father's valet. Hussein said even the president's son had to face justice, but Uday was only exiled to Switzerland for a year and then came back to Iraq, where he was later crippled in an assassination attempt. The next son, Qusai, ran the Revolutionary Guards and Special Forces which his father used to stay in power. These two sons were killed by American soldiers in July 2003.
However, even family weren't always trustworthy for him. Hussein Kamel Majid and Saddam Kamel, Hussein's cousins and sons-in-law fled Iraq for Jordan in 1995 (with their families -- Hussein's daughters and grandchildren leaving Iraq made this even a bigger scandal) and spoke of overthrowing Hussein. However, anti-Hussein forces were reluctant to deal with them because of their former close relationship with the dictator. They returned the next year, having been told Hussein would pardon them, but on entering the country the men were separated from the women and children in their parties and a few days later it was announced that these sons-in-law were dead in a gunfight, in which their killers had conveniently died too.)
Hussein stayed in power after the Gulf War and refused to cooperate with inspectors from the UN coming to verify that Iraq was not producing the weapons it was forbidden to make by the cease-fire agreement. Iraq was put under sanctions until it allowed inspections (weakening its already-weak economy) and a four-day United States/Great Britain air strike was made on Iraq in 1998 to attempt to force compliance. American and British air patrols continued to fly over Iraq and bomb its defenses, and Iraqis still tried to shoot those planes down. Both of those countries also announced that they supported any political opposition to Hussein within Iraq and would provide those groups with economic assistance.
However, the U.S. and U.K. eventually got tired of waiting or something; rather than allow United Nations inspections to keep looking (after they found no weapons of mass destruction at first), and arranged a coalition to invade Iraq in March 2003 to remove Hussein from power. Within a month Baghdad had fallen to U.S. soldiers and Hussein's regime was ousted, but Hussein's fate was unknown until the early hours of 14 December 2003, when he was captured by U.S. forces from an underground pit under a house in a small village a few miles from his hometown of Tikrit. His whereabouts were known because of a tip from an Iraqi. (See The Search for Saddam Hussein for more details.)
Though Hussein's leadership was one of the things that led the United States to invade Iraq in March 2003, his capture did not end problems between the U.S. and Iraq, nor did his death. As Senator. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement, the circumstances of Saddam's capture in a hole in the ground showed that he was "not managing the insurgency, and that he had very little control or influence," meaning that the attackers of U.S. forces were not fighting for him, but against the United States.
Saddam Hussein was tried by Iraq's Special Tribunal for ordering the killings of 148 Shi'ite Muslims from the city of Dujail, though he questioned the legitimacy of the court on several occasions and at one point went on a hunger strike. (Critics of the trial also argued that the standard of guilt was different than usual in this trial, since a conviction could be obtained based on being "satisfied" of Hussein's guilt, instead of the usual "proved beyond a reasonable doubt.) Hussein's defense argued that the men killed had received a fair trial and that their deaths were not an unusual sentence for seeking to assassinate a head of state such as Saddam. Three of Hussein's lawyers were assassinated during the proceedings, and other lawyers boycotted the court afterward.
Hussein was convicted on November 6, 2006. An Iraqi court rejected his appeal on December 25, 2006, and then an American judge rejected a last-minute challenge to the death sentence. (A second trial was going on at the time of his death for genocide and other crimes during the 1987-88 military crackdown that killed approximately 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq, and this trial will probably continue with Hussein's co-defendants.)
Hussein was hanged by Iraqi executioners in Baghdad on December 30, 2006. Footage of what was said to be his dead body, partially wrapped in a shroud, was shown on Iraqi state television to help prove that he was truly dead. Reports say that his body was taken by the governor of Salahuddin province and the head of Saddam's clan for burial near Tikrit.
Reaction in Iraq was mixed, with some celebrations and some protests. Some Muslims, particularly Sunni Muslims like Hussein, have been angry that Hussein's execution happened on the first day of the four days of the religious holiday Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, which marks biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God, and during the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca which Muslims are supposed to make at least once. Most governments of other Muslim countries did not make many official statements immediately, whether because the holiday means that the government offices were closed or because they do\id not want to get into a further war of words. Libya, however, proclaimed three days of national mourning for Hussein.
http://www.megastories.com/iraq/family/family.htm and following pages in the article.