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A Saddam Chronology

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A glance at the life of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein:

April 28, 1937 -- Born in village near desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

1957 -- Joins underground Baath Socialist Party.

1958 -- Arrested for killing his brother-in-law, a Communist, spends six months in prison.

Oct. 7, 1959 -- On Baath assassination team that ambushes Iraqi strongman Gen. Abdel-Karim Kassem in Baghdad, wounding him. Saddam, wounded in leg, flees to Syria then Egypt.

[This was not the only attempt to assassinate Kassem. In April 1960, the CIA approved using a poisoned handkerchief to kill Kassem. The "handkerchief was duly dispatched to Kassem, but whether or not it ever reached him, it certainly did not kill him." (Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA, New York: Knopf, 1979, p. 130.)]

Feb. 8, 1963 -- Returns from Egypt after Baath takes part in coup that overthrows and kills Kassem. Baath ousted by military in November.

[The coup was backed by the CIA.

"As its instrument the C.I.A. had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Baath Party, in 1963 still a relatively small political faction influential in the Iraqi Army. According to the former Baathist leader Hani Fkaiki, among party members colluding with the C.I.A. in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein....

"According to Western scholars, as well as Iraqi refugees and a British human rights organization, the 1963 coup was accompanied by a bloodbath. Using lists of suspected Communists and other leftists provided by the C.I.A., the Baathists systematically murdered untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite -- killings in which Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated. No one knows the exact toll, but accounts agree that the victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures." (Roger Morris, "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making," New York Times, March 14, 2003, p. A29.)]

July 17, 1968 -- Baathists and army officers overthrow regime.

["Again, this coup, amid more factional violence, came with C.I.A. backing. Serving on the staff of the National Security Council under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the late 1960's, I often heard C.I.A. officers -- including Archibald Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a ranking C.I.A. official for the Near East and Africa at the time -- speak openly about their close relations with the Iraqi Baathists." (Morris, "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making," p. A29.)]

July 30, 1968 -- Takes charge of internal security after Baath ousts erstwhile allies and authority passes to Revolutionary Command Council under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam's cousin.

[From 1973-75, the United States, Iran, and Israel supported a Kurdish insurgency in Iraq. Documents examined by the U.S. House Select Committee on Intelligence "clearly show that the President, Dr. Kissinger and the [shah] hoped that our clients [the Kurds] would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap [iraqi] resourcesY. This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting. Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise." Then, in 1975, the Shah and Saddam Hussein of Iraq signed an agreement giving Iran territorial concessions in return for Iran's closing its border to Kurdish guerrillas. Teheran and Washington promptly cut off their aid to the Kurds and, while Iraq massacred the rebels, the United States refused them asylum. Kissinger justified this U.S. policy in closed testimony: "covert action should not be confused with missionary work." (U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Intelligence, 19 Jan. 1976 [Pike Report] in Village Voice, 16 Feb. 1976, pp. 85, 87n465, 88n471. The Pike Report attributes the last quote only to a "senior official"; William Safire, Safire's Washington, New York: Times Books, 1980, p. 333, identifies the official as Kissinger.)]

July 16, 1979 -- Takes over as president from al-Bakr, launches massive purge of Baath.

[in the late 1970s, Saddam also purged the Iraqi Communist Party and other oppositionists. (Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958, London: I. B. Tauris, 1990, pp. 182-87) "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq," declared U.S. National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in April 1980. (Quoted in Barry Rubin, "The United States and Iraq: From Appeasement to War," in Iraq's Road to War, ed. Amatzia Baram and Barry Rubin, New York: St. Martin's 1993, p. 256.)]

Sept. 22, 1980 -- Sends forces into Iran; war last eight years.

[When Iraq invaded Iran, the United Nations Security Council waited four days before holding a meeting. On September 28, it passed Resolution 479 calling for an end to the fighting, but which significantly did not condemn (nor even mention) the Iraqi aggression and did not demand a return to internationally recognized boundaries. As Ralph King, who has studied the UN response in detail, concluded, "The Council more or less deliberately ignored Iraq's actions in September 1980." The U.S. delegate noted that Iran, which had itself violated Security Council resolutions on the U.S. embassy hostages, could hardly complain about the Council's lackluster response. (R.P.H. King, "The United Nations and the Iran‑Iraq War, 1980‑1986," in The United Nations and the Iran‑Iraq War, ed. Brian Urquhart and Gary Sick, New York: Ford Foundation, August 1987.)

Despite the fact that Iraq had been the aggressor in this war and that Iraq was the first to use chemical weapons, the first to launch air attacks on cities, and the initiator of the tanker war, the United States tilted toward Iraq. The U.S. removed Iraq from its list of terrorist states in 1982, sent Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad as Reagan's envoy to meet with Saddam Hussein in 1983 and 1984 to discuss economic cooperation, re-established diplomatic relations in November 1984, made available extensive loans and subsidies, provided intelligence information, encouraged its allies to arm Iraq, and engaged in military actions in the Persian Gulf against Iran. The United States also provided dual-use equipment that it knew Iraq was using for military purposes. (See Joyce Battle, ed., "Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984," National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 82, Feb. 25, 2003, ]http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/.)]

March 28, 1988 -- Uses chemical weapons against Kurdish town of Halabja, killing estimated 5,000 civilians.

[From Iraq's first use of chemical weapons in 1983, the U.S. took a very restrained view. When the evidence of Iraqi use of these weapons could no longer be denied, the U.S. issued a mild condemnation, but made clear that this would have no effect on commercial or diplomatic relations between the United States and Iraq. Iran asked the Security Council to condemn Iraq's chemical weapons use, but the U.S. delegate to the U.N. was instructed to try to prevent a resolution from coming to a vote, or else to abstain. An Iraqi official told the U.S. that Iraq strongly preferred a Security Council presidential statement to a resolution and did not want any specific country identified as responsible for chemical weapons use. On March 30, 1984, the Security Council issued a presidential statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, without naming Iraq as the offending party. (Battle, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/.)

At the same time that the U.S. government had knowledge of that the Iraqi military was using chemical weapons, it was providing intelligence and planning assistance to the Iraqi armed forces. (Patrick Tyler, "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq In War Despite Use Of Gas," New York Times, Aug. 18, 2002, p. 1.)

When Iraq used chemical weapons in March 1988 against Halabja, there was no condemnation from Washington. (Dilip Hiro, "When US turned a blind eye to poison gas," The Observer, September 1, 2002, p. 17.) "In September 1988, the House of Representatives voted 388 to 16 in favor of economic sanctions against Iraq, but the White House succeeded in having the Senate water down the proposal. In exchange for Export-Import Bank credits, Iraq merely had to promise not to use chemical weapons again, with agricultural credits exempted even from this limited requirement." (Rubin, "The United States and Iraq: From Appeasement to War," p. 261.)]

Aug. 2, 1990 -- Invades Kuwait.

Dec. 13, 2003 -- Saddam is captured at 8:30 p.m. in the town of Adwar, 10 miles south of Tikrit. He is hiding in a specially prepared "spider hole."

[Edited on 2003/12/16 by habitual_hab]

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