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Hussein, Saddam 1937 - Present -"We're dealing with Hitler revisited." (english)
02 Mar 2003
"President of Iraq (1979 - ). Born April 28, 1937, in the poor farming village of Tikrit, Iraq, where he was raised by his widowed mother. In 1955, he moved to the neighboring city of Baghdad, where he became involved in the Arab Nationalist Movement. As a fervent member of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, Hussein orchestrated the 1959 assassination attempt of Iraqi prime minister 'Abd al-Karim Qasim. After the failed effort, Hussein escaped to Egypt. He settled in Cairo, where he attended the Cairo School of Law.
Hussein, Saddam 1937 - Present

"President of Iraq (1979 - ). Born April 28, 1937, in the poor farming village of Tikrit, Iraq, where he was raised by his widowed mother. In 1955, he moved to the neighboring city of Baghdad, where he became involved in the Arab Nationalist Movement. As a fervent member of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, Hussein orchestrated the 1959 assassination attempt of Iraqi prime minister 'Abd al-Karim Qasim. After the failed effort, Hussein escaped to Egypt. He settled in Cairo, where he attended the Cairo School of Law.

When the Baathists seized control of Iraq in 1963, Hussein returned to his native country and was named assistant secretary general of the party. Within a few months the Baath party was overthrown. After years of struggle between Iraq's existing government and the opposing socialists, the Baath party was re-established in a 1968 coup. Hussein, who played a prominent role in the revolt, became vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council in 1969.

In his new position, Hussein concentrated on improving Iraq's domestic problems. He nationalized the country's oil industry, which served as Iraq's major source of wealth. Benefiting from the rise of oil prices in the early 1970s, Hussein implemented an economic improvement plan that included new factories, hospitals, and schools.

In 1979, Hussein assumed the presidency of Iraq. That same year, he led Arab opposition to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Under Hussein's direction, Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, in an attempt to gain control of the Strait of Hormuz. The attack led to a war of attrition, during which Hussein quelled a Kurdish uprising by the widespread use of chemical weapons. The Iran-Iraq War lasted for eight years, until Iran agreed to a cease-fire in 1988.

Burdened with a $75 billion war debt, Iraq pressured neighboring Kuwait to pay some of the balance with their vast oil revenues. In August 1990, Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait, but was forced to withdraw when he was defeated by a coalition of U.S.-led forces in the Persian Gulf War. Also known as Operation Desert Storm, the six-week-long war (coupled with UN trade sanctions) further devastated Iraq's suffering economy. In 1993, Hussein brought further military strikes against his country for continued breaching of peace terms. In 1998, his failure to comply with UN weapons inspectors led to a four-day air strike by the U.S. and Great Britain, but a satisfactory agreement was met. "

Saddam Hussein President of Iraq ( ABC News )

"Huddled in an underground bunker with his country smoldering in ruins around him, Iraqi President SADDAM HUSSEIN seemed buried for good in February 1992. U.N. forces had devastated Iraq in the six-week Persian Gulf War; sewage systems and telephone lines were out, electrical grids were down, and roads were impassable. Harsh international sanctions and reparation debts hobbled recovery prospects for the oil-rich republic of Iraq. But Hussein resurfaced, unrepentant for the failed invasion of Kuwait and its enormous toll."

"You Americans, you treat the Third World in the way an Iraqi peasant treats his new bride. Three days of honeymoon, and then it's off to the fields."
Saddam Hussein, at a 1985 meeting with State Department officials. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 10, 1991

"The man who would become known as the enemy of the Western world had beaten the odds before. Hussein grew up in Auja, a village of mud-brick huts northwest of Baghdad. His parents were poor farmers, but inspired by his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, an Iraqi army officer and crusader for Arab unity, Hussein gravitated to politics as a teenager."

"We're dealing with Hitler revisited."
President George Bush on Saddam Hussein, Oct. 15, 1990. Bush retracted the statement under criticism that it belittled the Holocaust

"Saddam joined the socialist Baath party when he was 19. He made his mark three years later when he participated in a 1959 assassination attempt against Iraqi Prime Minister Abudul Karim Kassim. Saddam was shot in the leg during the botched effort and fled the country for several years, first to Syria, then Egypt."
" In 1968 he helped lead the revolt that finally brought the Baath party to power under Gen. Ahmed Hassan Bakr. In the process, he landed the vice president's post, from which he built an elaborate network of secret police to root out dissidents. Eleven years later he deposed Bakr and plastered the streets with 20-foot-high portraits of himself."

"Saddam's years as a revolutionary left him keenly aware of the danger of dissent. Shortly after taking office, he purged and murdered dozens of government officials suspected of disloyalty. In the early 1980s, he used chemical weapons to crush a Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq. Saddam's power struggles extended well beyond his country's borders; bent on dominating the Muslim world, he attacked neighboring countries. In 1980 he invaded Iran, launching an eight-year war that ended in stalemate."
"In August 1990 he invaded the oil sheikdom of Kuwait, proclaiming it Iraq's 19th province. He defied U.N. directives to retreat from Kuwait, provoking what he called "the mother of all battles," the Persian Gulf War. That brief conflict decimated Saddam's military forces, but he has managed to rebuild his republic and his power base, beginning with the secret police force."

Bride of Saddam, Matched Since Childhood
By Martha Sherrill
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 25, 1991; Page D01

"She's a clotheshorse. She's a bottle blonde. She's the headmistress of a girls school. She's a jealous wife, and with good reason. She's the mother of a killer. She's her husband's first cousin.

She's Mrs. Saddam Hussein.

Veiled in mystery, totally overshadowed -- behind every megalomaniacal dictator is a woman we hear nothing about -- Sajida Khayrallah has miraculously endured a 32-year marriage to Saddam.

"Our story was like that of many others," the Iraqi president told a women's magazine in the late '70s. But their lavish, violent, clannish lifestyle calls to mind scenes from "The Godfather," Saddam's all-time favorite movie.

Their marriage, like so many in the Arab world, was arranged when Saddam was only 4 or 5 years old. Sajida, the daughter of his uncle Khayrallah, was two years older. They didn't actually meet until Saddam was 21."

"Reports vary, but most state that Saddam and Sajida -- a schoolteacher at the time -- were married in 1958. After the Baath party took power in 1963, Saddam returned to Baghdad from exile in Cairo, to take his place in the new regime. He started his career as an interrogator and torturer."

"In Baghdad, after he founded the Iraqi secret police, the Husseins were known for being status-conscious and socially mobile. They wore expensive clothes and matching jewelry -- the brilliant stones in his cuff links and her earrings were cut from the same rock. The silk lining of his suits matched the silk of his ties. Sajida, over the years, was drawn to Geneva and Paris to buy Western-style designer clothes and her hair -- brunette at first -- became blonder."

"She bore him five children -- two sons and three daughters. Meanwhile, in 1968, Saddam became deputy secretary general of the Baath party, the No. 2 spot in the government; in 1979 he was named president."

"Arab leaders are not traditionally open about their personal lives, but when stories about Saddam Hussein's philandering slowly started appearing in newspapers, the president of Iraq released more information about his family life -- as any good politician would. Pictures began to appear of Saddam, the devoted father. Saddam, helping the kids with their homework. Saddam, motorboating with the family on the Tigris."

"The most important thing about marriage," he told Al-Mar'a magazine in 1978, "is that the man must not let the woman feel downtrodden simply because she is a woman and he is a man."

"Every year, Sajida threw her husband an extravagant party on his birthday -- April 28, the same day, as it happens, as James Baker's. Hundreds of Iraqi artists would present the ruler with portraits they'd painted of him."

"Over time, newspapers reported that Saddam had one special mistress -- Samira Shahbandar. She is described as tall, blond and from an old and distinguished merchant family of Baghdad. At the time Saddam fell for her, Samira was married to somebody else -- Nurredin al-Safi, an Iraqi Airlines official, who quickly agreed to step aside and let the notoriously hotheaded president claim his wife. Safi was later promoted to director of the airline.

"Some believe Saddam secretly married Samira without going through the formality of divorcing Sajida. (She is described as Saddam's "second wife" in both the London Daily Telegraph and in the quickie biography of Saddam by Judith Miller and Laurie Mylroie.) "

"In either case, Saddam's relationship with Samira surely strained his family life. Sajida, by all accounts, was overcome with jealousy and humiliation when Saddam began making public appearances with Samira in the late '80s. Her brother Adnan Khayrallah -- also one of Saddam's closest friends -- complained bitterly on her behalf about the open affair. The complaints stopped, though, when Adnan was killed in a helicopter crash attributed to "mechanical failure." (On "60 Minutes" this week, a former Saddam bodyguard admitted planting a bomb on the craft, at the president's bidding.) "

"Saddam's oldest son, Uday, was also reported to be distressed by the news of his father's mistress. Uday, 26, is a smart businessman, according to some reports, and has already made millions with his company Super Chicken, a food processing chain, and another company called the Wave that makes ice cream."

"But he's also ember-tempered, like Dad. Supposedly, Saddam's valet had been a go-between for Saddam and Samira. And so, at a party in honor of Egyptian President Hosni Murbarak's wife in October 1988, Uday bludgeoned and kicked the hapless servant to death. Uday, it seems, had felt his eventual inheritance was jeopardized by the love affair."

"Since there were many witnesses to the killing, and because it became so public, Saddam announced that Uday would be put on trial for murder. But -- why isn't this turn of events surprising? -- the parents of the murdered man begged that Saddam's son be given clemency."

"And so he was. Uday was then banished temporarily to Switzerland, according to the London Independent, until he was deported for repeated drunken brawling. He has returned to Iraq and is running the Iraqi Olympic Committee."

"Mrs. Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, having lived through eight years of war with Iran, is probably no big fan of Bunker Life. Last November, the London Times reported that Sajida was believed to be in Switzerland. Some said she was shopping. Others wrote that she was depositing money and gold ingots stolen from Kuwait in Saddam's Swiss bank account.

Now Sajida is believed to be far from the rubble in Baghdad. She is said to have left Iraq hours before the bombing began, and is relaxing on the coast of Mauritania, in the capital city of Nouakchott. Presumably, she's got the number of the Swiss bank account close at hand."

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