Saddam Hussein Biography (1937–2006)

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(born April 28, 1937, Tikrt, Iraq-died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) president of Iraq (1979-2003), whose brutal rule was marked by costly and unsuccessful wars against neighbouring countries.

addm was born into a peasant family in northern Iraq. He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. In 1959 he participated in an unsuccessful attempt by Ba'thists to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister, 'Abd al-Karm Qsim; wounded in the attempt, addm escaped, first to Syria and then to Egypt. He attended Cairo Law School (1962-63) and continued his studies at Baghdad Law College after the Ba'thists took power in Iraq in 1963. The Ba'thists were overthrown that same year, however, and addm spent several years in prison in Iraq. He escaped, becoming a leader of the Ba'th Party, and was instrumental in the coup that brought the party back to power in 1968. addm effectively held power in Iraq along with the head of state, President Amad asan al-Bakr, and in 1972 he directed the nationalization of Iraq's oil industry.

addm began to assert open control of the government in 1979 and became president upon Bakr's resignation. He then became chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and prime minister, among other positions. He used an extensive secret-police establishment to suppress any internal opposition to his rule, and he made himself the object of an extensive personality cult among the Iraqi public. His goals as president were to supplant Egypt as leader of the Arab world and to achieve hegemony over the Persian Gulf.

addm launched an invasion of Iran's oil fields in September 1980, but the campaign bogged down in a war of attrition. The cost of the war and the interruption of Iraq's oil exports caused addm to scale down his ambitious programs for economic development. The Iran-Iraq War dragged on in...