Leadership of Saddam Hussein
- Born April 28, 1937
- By 19, Hussein was supporting Arab unity and joining the socialist Baath Party
- Involved in failed assassination attempt of Prime Minister General Abdel-Karim Qassem at 22 years of age
- Studied law in Egypt with degree from University of Cairo’s law school in 1962
- Vital role in the July 1968 coup that brought Baath Party stable power once and for all
- Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council in 1969 – Supervised nationalization of oil industry, supported a national program to build roads, schools, and hospitals, and called for a mandatory literacy program
- Was the government minister responsible for extending government control over the army and the secret police in the 1970s
- Becomes President of Iraq in 1979
- Went to war with Iran in 1980
|Traits, Characteristics, Leadership Skills
- Admirer of Stalin’s use of terror
- His presidency started with the televised trial of a number of men, 21 of whom were later executed
- Death penalty became punishment for concealing previous membership of a different political party as well as for leaving the Baath Party to join another party
- Used power of secret police and brutal force to eliminate internal opposition
- Ruthless determination
- Feared as a vicious dictator
- The ideal student was one who could ‘stand in the sun holding his weapon day and night without flinching.’
- ‘Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said nor what you intended.’
- ‘I am ready to die. I am not scared of execution. I do not attend this trial to spare my life. I attend it to defend Iraq.’
- Baathist ideology
- Political leanings of Arab nationalism because he was constantly taught it when pursuing his secondary education
- Heroism in the service of the Arab nation
- Learned from Nasser, activist leader of Pan-Arabism, that Arab nationalism could be independent of Western interference was by confronting imperial powers
|Peacetime & Wartime Goals/Objectives
- Evidence of Iran’s involvement in the assassination of leading members of the governing Baathist party in Iraq
- Iraq wanted to gain complete control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway and thus gain a secure outlet to the sea. Saddam might even be able, perhaps, to claim part of oil-rich, south-west Iran.
- Iran’s economy was in chaos following the fall of the Shah’s regime; the country was facing a Western boycott of its trade because of the capture of the US embassy; and the Iranian armed forces were demoralised
- If he could take advantage of Iran’s weakness and defeat his neighbour in a short war, he could strengthen his regime and also become the leading power in the oil-rich Gulf
|Peacetime & Wartime Accomplishments and Failures
- Referendum was held on his presidency, 99 per cent voted in support – He was portrayed as a national hero, dedicated to his people
- Half a million Iraqis had died in the eight years of war with no territorial gains (stale-mate for both nations)
- During war, significant amount spent on weapons (accounting for 93 per cent of all imports by 1984) so less was spent on hospitals and schools. Life expectancy fell and infant mortality increased
|Lasting Legacy to World History
- Led nationalization of Western oil companies in 1972 which had the control of Iraq’s oil
- Took aggressive position towards foreign interference
- Vital role in modernization of Iraqi economy; construction of developed industries and their administration and implementation
- Led modernization of Iraqi countryside; development of machinery for agriculture and distribution of land for farmers
- Established National Campaign for Eradication of Illiteracy and established Compulsory Free Education in Iraq
The Iran-Iraq War
- Middle East: Iraq and Iran
|Size of the Military Forces
Total Armed Forces
1980 – 242,250 1987-850,000
Main Battle Tanks
1980 – 2,500 1987-4,800
1980 – 250 1987-360-400
Total Active Military Manpower
1980 – 240,000 1986 – 1,250,000
1980 – 750 1987-150-370
|Participants (brief profile of two of military leaders)
- Iraq was supported by France, USA, Soviet Union, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan
- Iran was supported by Syria
|Strategies and Tactics
- Iraq pursued a ‘two-pronged’ strategy against Iran
- First, it sought to break Iran’s spirit and capacity to resist through massive missile, air, and gas attacks on both military and civilian targets
- The ‘war of the cities’ in 1985 and 1988 is a major example of this. It involved Iraqi air attacks on forty Iranian cities, missile attacks on populated centers in western Iran, chemical and gas attacks in selected areas along the front, attacks on Persian Gulf shipping, and a declaration that the air over Iran was to be treated as a war zone and that Iraqi war planes reserved the right to shoot down any aircraft in this airspace
- Iraq’s second strategy was to make this an international conflict. Saddam Hussein had consistently sought to draw foreign superpowers, especially the United States, into the war. By 1988 he had partially succeeded in accomplishing this goal.
|Key Technology Used During the War
- The Iraqi’s used extensive chemical weapons against Iran
- They used nerve gas, blister gas, cyanide and blood affecting gases
- By 1988, the Iraqi’s used 20 chemical rockets, 74 artillery rockets and 284 chemical air attacks.
- In total, more than 5,000 people lost their lives to chemical attacks and almost 45,000 were injured.
|Timeline of Key Events
- 1919 – British granted a mandate over Iraq
- 1953 – Overthrow of Mossadeq’s government Iran
- 1958 – Iraqi army overthrow the monarchy
- 1968 – Baathists seized power in Iraq
- 1979 – Saddam Hussein becomes President of Iraq, Iranian Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini
- 22nd September 1980 – Iraq invades Iran and bombs Iranian airfields
- September/December1981 – Successful Iranian counter-offensives recapturing much territory
- March 1983 – Iraq attacks Iran’s oil platforms causing damage and leakage
- March 1985 – Iraq bombs Ahwaz: beginning of ‘war of the cities’ Iraqi air attacks on Tehran
- March 1985 – After a year, Iran launches another offensive, this time in Howeiza marsh region, which proves costly and fruitless.
- May 1987 – Foreign Minister Velayat (Iran) reiterates warnings to US and USSR not to intervene in Gulf
- 1987 – Khomeini refers to new stage in war ushering in new military strategy by Iran in which emphasis is put less on size of offensives than on their continuation and repetition to increase pressure on Iraq and ‘to deprive the enemy of respite’
- 1988 – Iran finally accepts due to their economy in ruins and the prospect of a direct war with the USA.
Butt, Gerald. “Saddam Hussein profile.” January 4th, 2001.
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1100529.stm, accessed December 12th, 2009).
Moore, Jessica. “Saddam Hussein’s Rise to Power.”
(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/iraq/war/player1.html, accessed December 12th, 2009).
Rajaee, Farhang. The Iran-Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression. (University Press of Florida,
Scott-Baumann, Michael. Crisis in the Middle East: Israel And the Arab States 1945-2007.
(London: Hodder Education, 2009).
Author: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
Tutor and Freelance Writer. Science Teacher and Lover of Essays.
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