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Hussein, Saddam (1937–)

Subject History

Place Middle and Near East » Iraq

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


President of Iraq (1979–). He was born in a poor peasant family near Tikrit, a small town on the Tigris 100 miles (160 km) north of Baghdad. He joined the Ba'th Party in 1955, was involved in an attempted assassination of Qasim in 1959 and escaped to Egypt. Saddam Hussein returned to Baghdad after Qasim was killed in a coup in 1963 and gained the attention of the Ba'th Party's Syrian founder, Michel Aflaq, who put him in charge of organizing the civil wing of the party in 1964. Though not in the army himself (the uniform he habitually wore was that of the Ba'th militia) he had family connections with army officers, especially to General Hasan al-Bakr. A military coup in 1968 brought the Ba'th back to power with al-Bakr as President of Iraq and Saddam Hussein as assistant Secretary-General of the Ba'th and a year later Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the country's ruling body. Cautious, suspicious, ruthless and an admirer of stalin, he took control of the security services and the military wing of the Ba'th and became the strong-man of the regime. In the 1970s he won even more power by his close alliance with al-Bakr and by controlling the Republican Guard, an elite army unit. In 1972 Saddam Hussein nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company. To deal effectively with the opposition of the Kurds, his constant opponents who were supported by Iran, he made the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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