Saddam Hussein

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Saddam De Facto
Saddam Hussein was unarguably the world's most feared and powerful leaders. He ruled with an iron fist, his actions have caused fear and hate among the Iraqi citizens he ruled and people around the world. He ruled by oppression, with supremacy, committing atrocious acts such as testing chemical and biological weapons on the innocent civilians of his own country. During his time in power, he blatantly violated nearly all the United Nations laws that pertained to his country, and mocked those who attempted to obstruct his violent actions. Saddam Hussein was born in the village of Al-Awja, in the Tikrit district of Iraq, to a family of sheep-herders. "His mother named her newborn "Saddam," which in Arabic means "one who confronts" (Cockburn 9) He never knew his father, Hussein 'Abd al-Majid, who died or disappeared five months before Saddam was born. Shortly afterwards, Saddam's twelve-year-old brother died of cancer, leaving his mother severely depressed in the final months of the pregnancy. She attempted both to abort Saddam and kill herself and refused to care for her new child when he was born. The infant Saddam was sent to the family of his maternal uncle, Khairallah Tulfah, until he was three. His mother, Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, remarried, and Saddam gained three half-brothers through this marriage. His stepfather, Ibrahim al-Hassan, treated Saddam Hussein harshly after his return. He was abusive and forced the Saddam to steal chickens and sheep for resale. At the age of ten, he fled the family to return to live with his uncle, who was a devout Sunni Muslim, in Baghdad. "Later in his life, relatives from his native Tikrit would become some of his most influential and powerful advisors and supporters. According to Saddam, he learned many things from his uncle, especially the lesson that he should never back down from his enemies, no matter how superior their numbers or capabilities" (Cockburn 12). Under the guidance of his uncle, he attended a nationalistic secondary school in Baghdad. In 1957, at age 20, Saddam joined the revolutionary pan-Arab Ba'ath Party, of which his uncle was a supporter. The Ba'athists opposed the new government, and in 1959, Saddam was involved in the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Qassim. Saddam was shot in the leg, but managed to flee to Syria, from where he later moved to Egypt. In exile he attended the University of Cairo law school. Saddam returned to Iraq, but was imprisoned in 1964 when an anti-Ba'ath group led by Abdul Rahman Arif took power. He escaped from jail in 1967 and became one of the leading members of the party. According to many biographers, Saddam never forgot the tensions within the first Ba'athist government, namely party unity and the ruthless resolve to maintain power and programs to ensure social stability. In July 1968 a second coup brought the Ba'athists back to power under General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, a Tikriti and a relative of Saddam. The Ba'ath's ruling clique named Saddam vice-chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council and vice president of Iraq. In 1976 Saddam was appointed a general in the Iraqi armed forces. He rapidly became the strongman of the government, and was the de facto ruler of Iraq some years before he formally came to power in 1979. He slowly began to consolidate his power over Iraq's government and the Ba'ath party. Relationships with fellow party members were carefully cultivated, and Saddam soon gained a powerful circle of support within the party. As Iraq's weak and elderly President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became increasingly unable to execute the duties of his office, Saddam began to take an increasingly prominent role as the face of the Iraqi government, both internally and externally. He soon became the architect of Iraq's foreign policy and represented the nation in all diplomatic situations. By the late 1970s, Saddam had emerged as the undisputed de facto leader of Iraq. "Saddam...
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