Saddam Hussein

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Hussein, Saddam

(sädäm` ho͞osān`), 1937–2006, Iraqi political leader. A member of the Ba'ath partyBa'ath party
, Arab political party, in Syria and in Iraq. Its main ideological objectives are secularism, socialism, and pan-Arab unionism. Founded in Damascus in 1941 and reformed, with the name Ba'ath, in the early 1950s, it rapidly achieved political power in Syria.
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, he fled Iraq after participating (1959) in an assassination attempt on the country's prime minister; in Egypt he attended law school. Returning to Iraq in 1963 after the Ba'athists briefly came to power, he played a significant role in the 1968 revolution that secured Ba'ath hegemony. Hussein held key economic and political posts before becoming Iraq's president in 1979.

As president, he focused on strengthening the Iraqi oil industry and military and gaining a greater foothold in the Arab world while using brutal measures to maintain his power. In 1980 he escalated a long-standing dispute with IranIran
, officially Islamic Republic of Iran, republic (2005 est. pop. 68,018,000), 636,290 sq mi (1,648,000 sq km), SW Asia. The country's name was changed from Persia to Iran in 1935.
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 over the Shatt al ArabShatt al Arab
, tidal river, 120 mi (193 km) long, formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, flowing SE to the Persian Gulf, forming part of the Iraq-Iran border; the Karun is its chief tributary.
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 waterway into a full-scale war (see Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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) lasting eight years. On Aug. 2, 1990, Hussein ordered an Iraqi invasion of neighboring KuwaitKuwait
or Kowait
, officially State of Kuwait, constitutional emirate (2005 est. pop. 2,336,000), 6,177 sq mi (16,000 sq km), NE Arabian peninsula, at the head of the Persian Gulf. Kuwait is bounded by Saudi Arabia on the south and by Iraq on the north and west.
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; however, Iraq was forced out in early 1991 by an international military coalition (see IraqIraq
or Irak
, officially Republic of Iraq, republic (2005 est. pop. 26,075,000), 167,924 sq mi (434,924 sq km), SW Asia. Iraq is bordered on the south by Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia; on the west by Jordan and Syria; on the north by Turkey; and on the
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; Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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).

Following the war, Hussein weathered a Kurdish rebellion in the north and quelled a Shiite insurrection in the south, while his country suffered the effects of international economic sanctions. Hussein's resistance to UN-supervised weapons inspections imposed as part of the conditions for ending the Gulf War led to U.S. and British bombing raids against Iraq beginning in 1998. With the threat of war with the U.S. and Britain looming in 2002, Iraq agreed to let UN inspectors return, but the failure of Iraq to cooperate fully with the United Nations led to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in Mar., 2003. In a little less than a month Anglo-American forces ended Hussein's control over nearly all Iraq, although guerrillas continued to mount attacks in the following months. Hussein survived the invasion, but was not captured until Dec., 2003.

In 2004 he was transferred to Iraqi legal custody and arraigned on charges stemming from his presidency. The Iraqi government put Hussein on trial in 2005 for crimes against humanity, for ordering the execution of 143 men in the Shiite village of Dujail following an assassination attempt on him there in 1982. In 2006, charges of genocide, resulting from the anti-Kurd Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, also were brought against him. Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death in the Dujail case in Nov., 2006; after an unsuccessful appeal he was hanged in Dec., 2006.

Bibliography

See K. M. Woods et al., ed., The Saddam Tapes (2011).