Saddam Hussein, born Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, was born on April 28, 1937 to Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, his mother. He never met his father, who left before he was born. His mother named her son Saddam, which means “one who confronts” in their native Arabic language.
At the age of just 19, Saddam joined the Ba’ath Party, a political sector forming at the time in the Arab World. The party was formed in the 1940s by Michel Aflaq, and they banded together groups who stood up to government repression.
Just three years after joining the party, in October, 1959, Saddam Hussein, fully invested in the idea of overthrowing the government, joined in an assassination attempt against General Abdul Karim Qassem, the ruler of Iraq. The US was known to have ties with support of the assassination. Ultimately, however, the attempt was unsuccessful, and as a result, Saddam lived in exile in Egypt until 1963 to escape capture by Iraq.
The Ba’ath party finally overthrows General Abdul Karim Qassem and the political party gains power in Iraq. However, their rise to power was brief, ending in November of 1963, when the party is thrown out of power and Saddam is placed in jail. His popularity, however, did not wane while he was imprisoned, as he was elected to be the party’s deputy secretary general from behind bars.
Moving ahead five years, the Ba’ath party once again rises to power from the then current rules, Abdul Mohammed Aref.
After making Iraq rich with oil in the early 1970s, Saddam implemented a number of social improvements that had never been made by any countries in the region. He built a “National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy” and “Compulsory Free Education in Iraq”, which included free schooling for hundreds of thousands of the country’s children and young adults. He established free healthcare for all citizens, and paid farmers subsidies so that they could continue to grow crops that might not be profitable without such government help. His other accomplishments include using oil money to develop the country by building roads, mines, manufacturing industries and energy companies.
The Ba’ath rules relinquishes his seat, and Saddam, who is second in command, rises to power to become the party’s president. Shortly after assuming the presidency, Hussein brought together a group of the party’s leaders. During the gathering, he announced that there were traitors in their midst. He went on to read the names of each of the men that were plotting against him, all of which were tried together. By the end of the year, Saddam was responsible for the deaths of more than 10 party members that were allegedly planning an overthrow of the Ba’ath party.
A war begins between Iraq and Iran. Iran had been recently overthrown by Islamic Shi’ite rule, and Saddam was afraid that their radical ideas would spread into his country, which was largely based on non–religious rule. The US was on the side of Iraq during the war, which lasted eight years. More than one million are killed.
5,000 Kurdish villagers were killed by mustard and nerve gas, while 10,000 were incapacitated and left permanently disfigured or crippled. While Saddam claimed it was not he who ordered the chemical warfare attack, the US believed that he was, in fact, responsible. A ceasefire is signed between the two countries. No clear victory was declared, as both countries were left devastated, shells of their formers selves, and neither had accomplished what it was that they intended to accomplish.
Saddam invades the country of Kuwait. For two years prior, he had tried to gain the support of the US in his planned invasion, but the United States remained resistant to the support. Because the country gave Iraq billions of dollars during the Iraq-Iranwar, Saddam wanted to honor America’s decision to stay out of this new situation. The two countries, Iraq and Kuwait sat down to try and negotiate an agreement. Kuwait was angry with Iraq after the war, for the large amount of debt that the country accumulated from war costs and refused to accept an agreement. On August 2, 1990, Hussein made the decision to invade Kuwait forcefully.
In response to the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam, the US led Operation Desert Storm into Kuwait in order to drive the Iraqi army out of the country.
Saddam does not apologize for invading Kuwait until 11 years after his troops were driven out of the country by the US. Kuwait in unsympathetic and does not accept his apology, which is too little too late.
Saddam becomes a wanted man for claims that he had possession of chemical and nuclear weapons. He was said to be responsible for thousands of civilian and solider deaths during the Iraq and Iran war and during the invasion of Kuwait. He as also charged with torturing and murders of women and children. In December of 2003, after his two sons had been killed the July prior by US soldiers, Saddam was captured.
Saddam Hussein is hanged to death for crimes against humanity.