|Biographical detail : ||An Iraqi leader who made catastrophic miscalculation from the conflict with Iran to the invasion of Kuwait.
In 1959, Saddam Hussein participated in an attempted assassination of Abdul-Karim Qaseem, then president of Iraq. Being injured Saddam fled to Egypt where he studied law. However, Saddam returned to Baghdad in 1963 and rose within Ba’ath party. When Ba’ath party seized the control of Iraq in a 1968 coup, Saddam became a close advisor to Ahmed Hassan Bakr, president.
Finally, Saddam replaced the president in 1979. He consolidated his control by placing members of his clan in key positions. Though ruthless and dictatorial, he aroused patriotic fervour among Iraqis.
In 1980 Saddam invaded Iran in an attempt, and with support of the West, to eliminate the threat of Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionary Islamic Republic – an expensive and bloody eight-year war that led exhausted Iran to accept a UN armistice. The war involved extensive use of chemical weapons supplied to Saddam by the West. After nearly 1 million deaths, ceasefire with Iran was signed on 20 August 1988.
In 1990 Saddam seized Kuwait. Though hero to some Arabs, world condemnation was almost unanimous; Iraq faced a total UN boycott and it led to the Gulf War – known to Iraqis as “the mother of all battles. But American-led coalition under UN auspices, ‘Operation Desert Storm’, first broke the Iraqi economy, and then destroyed the bulk of Iraq’s modern forces. The war ended in 1991
After the Iraqi troops were forced out of Kuwait, America encouraged Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south to rise up against Saddam’s regime but the Iraqi forces crushed the uprisings.
In 1998 in the latest of several showdowns with the UN over his supposed nuclear programme, Saddam blocked inspectors that led to the US and UK response with an air strike. In 2002 the UN issued a resolution demanding that Iraq open its weapons facilities to inspectors or face “serious consequences.”
The US-led war of aggression with huge air bombardment followed by ground invasion and rapid advance towards Baghdad on the excuse of looking for ‘Weapon of mass destruction’ – and that never existed. Thus the years of occupation of Iraq by the US began with the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue on 9 April 2003. Saddam Hussein went into hiding but he was captured, on 13 December 2003, by the US forces in the town of Adwar near Tikrit.
Iraq’s ruling governing council established, while the country was still under American occupation, the Iraqi special tribunal, under Iraqi judges, to prosecute war crimes committed under Saddam Hussein.
Saddam pleaded innocent to charges of murder and torture and questioned the legitimacy of the court. On 5 November 2006 he was, however, sentenced to death. Saddam Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006. The whole process was effectively controlled by the US hence the trial was widely understood as victor’s justice and “an assault on truth and justice.”
Incidentally, a report, by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published on 19 December 2006, estimated that 655,000 people had died in Iraq as a result of 2003 US-led invasion.
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was born into a poor family. Growing up, he became immersed in politics as a teenager and joined, in 1957, the Ba’ath party at college in Baghdad.