Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was born in the town of Al-Awja, 13 km (8 mi) from the Iraqi town of Tikrit, to a family of shepherds from the al- Begat tribal group. His mother, Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, named her newborn son Saddam, which in Arabic means “One who confronts”; he is always referred to by this personal name, which may be followed by the patronymic and other elements. He never knew his father, Hussein ‘Abid al- Majid, who disappeared six months before Saddam was born. Shortly afterward, Saddam’s 13-year-old brother died of cancer. The infant Saddam was sent to the family of his maternal uncle Khairallah Talfah until he was three.
His mother remarried, and Saddam gained three half-brothers through this marriage. His stepfather, Ibrahim al-Hassan, treated Saddam harshly after his return. At around 10 Saddam fled the family and returned to live in Baghdad with his uncle Kharaillah Tulfah. Tulfah, the father of Saddam’s future wife, was a devout Sunni Muslim and a veteran from the 1941 Anglo-Iraqi War between Iraqi nationalists and the United Kingdom, which remained a major colonial power in the region. Later in his life relatives from his native Tikrit became some of his closest advisors and supporters. Under the guidance of his uncle he attended a nationalistic high school in Baghdad. After secondary school Saddam studied at an Iraqi law school for three years, dropping out in 1957 at the age of 20 to join the revolutionary pan-Arab Ba’ath Party, of which his uncle was a supporter. During this time, Saddam apparently supported himself as a secondary school teacher.
Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party student cell, Cairo, in the period 195963. Revolutionary sentiment was characteristic of the era in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In Iraq progressives and socialists assailed traditional political elites (colonial era bureaucrats and landowners, wealthy merchants and tribal chiefs, monarchists). Moreover, the pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt profoundly influenced young Ba’athists like Saddam. The rise of Nasser foreshadowed a wave of revolutions throughout the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s, with the collapse of the monarchies of Iraq, Egypt, and Libya. Nasser inspired nationalists throughout the Middle East by fighting the British and the French during the Suez Crisis of 1956,modernizingEgypt,and unitingthe Arab world politically.
In 1958, a year after Saddam had joined the Ba’ath party, army officers led by General Abd al-Karim Qasim overthrew Faisal II of Iraq. The Ba’athists opposed the new government, and in 1959 Saddam was involved in the unsuccessful United States-backed plot to assassinate Abdul Karim Qassim.
Rise to power
Saddam Hussein after the successful 1963 Ba’ath party coup
Saddam Hussein in Cairo after fleeing there following the failed assassination attempt against QassimArmy officers with ties to the Ba’ath Party overthrew Qassim in a coup in 1963. Ba’athist leaders were appointed to the cabinet and Abdul Salam Arif became president. Arif dismissed and arrested the Ba’athist leaders later that year. Saddam returned to Iraq, but was imprisoned in 1964. Just prior to his imprisonment and until 1968, Saddam held the position of Ba’ath party secretary. He escaped from prison in 1967 and quickly became a leading member of the party. In 1968, Saddam participated in a bloodless coup led by Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr that overthrew Abdul Rahman Arif. Al- Bakr was named president and Saddam was named his deputy, and deputy chairman of the Baathist Revolutionary Command Council. According to biographers, Saddam never forgot the tensions within the first Ba’athist government, which formed the basis for his measures to promote Ba’ath party unity as well as his resolve to maintain power and programs to ensure social stability.
Saddam Hussein in the past was seen byU.S.intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism in the 1960s and 1970s. Although Saddam was al-Bakr’s deputy, he was a strong behind-the-scenes party politician. Al-Bakr was the older and more prestigious of the two, but by 1969 Saddam Hussein clearly had become the moving force behind the party.
Promoting women’s literacy and education in the 1970sIn the late 1960s and early 1970s, as vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, formally the al-Bakr’s second-in-command, Saddam built a reputation as a progressive, effective politician.At this time, Saddam moved up the ranks in the new government by aiding attempts to strengthen and unify the Ba’ath party and taking a leading role in addressing the country’s major domestic problems and expanding the party’s following.
After the Baathists took power in 1968, Saddam focused on attaining stability in a nation riddled with profound tensions. Long before Saddam, Iraq had been split alongsocial,ethnic,religious,and economicfault lines:Sunniversus Shi’ite, Arab versus Kurd, tribal chief versus urban merchant, nomad versus peasant. Stable rule in a country rife with factionalism required both massive repression and the improvement of living standards.
Saddam actively fostered the modernization of the Iraqi economy along with the creation of a strong security apparatus to prevent coups within the power structure and insurrections apart from it. Ever concerned with broadening his base of support among the diverse elements of Iraqi society and mobilizing mass support, he closely followed the administration of state welfare and development programs.
At the center of this strategy was Iraq’s oil. On 1 June 1972, Saddam oversaw the seizure of international oil interests, which, at the time, dominated the country’soilsector.Ayear later,world oilpricesrosedramaticallyasaresult of the 1973 energy crisis, and skyrocketing revenues enabled Saddam to expand his agenda.
Within just a few years, Iraq was providing social services that were unprecedented among Middle Eastern countries. Saddam established and controlled the “National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy” and the campaign for “Compulsory Free Education in Iraq,” and largely under his auspices, the government established universal free schooling up to the highest education levels; hundreds of thousands learned to read in the years following the initiation of the program. The government also supported families of soldiers, granted free hospitalization to everyone, and gave subsidies to farmers. Iraq created one of the most modernized public-health systems in the Middle East,earningSaddam an award from the United Nations Educational,Scientificand CulturalOrganization (UNESCO).To diversify the largely oil-based Iraqi economy, Saddam implemented a national infrastructure campaign that made great progress in building roads, promoting mining, and developing other industries. The campaign revolutionized Iraq’s energy industries. Electricity was brought to nearly everycityin Iraq,and manyoutlyingareas.
Before the 1970s, most of Iraq’s people lived in the countryside, where Saddam himself was born and raised, and roughly two-thirds were peasants. This number would decrease quickly during the 1970s as the country invested much of its oil profits into industrial expansion.
Nevertheless, Saddam focused on fostering loyalty to the Ba’athist government in the rural areas. After nationalizing foreign oil interests, Saddam supervised the modernization of the countryside, mechanizing agriculture on a large scale, and distributing land to peasant farmers.The Ba’athists established farm cooperatives, in which profits were distributed according to the labors of the individual and the unskilled were trained. The government also doubled expenditures for agricultural development in 1974– 1975. Moreover, agrarian reform in Iraq improved the living standard of the peasantry and increased production.
Saddam became personally associated with Ba’athist welfare and economic development programs in the eyes of many Iraqis, widening his appeal both within his traditional base and among new sectors of the population. These programs were part of a combination of “carrot and stick” tactics to enhance support in the working class, the peasantry, and within the party and the government bureaucracy. Saddam’s organizational prowess was credited with Iraq’s rapid pace of development in the 1970s; development went forward at such a fevered pitch that two million people from other Arab countries and even Yugoslavia worked in Iraq to meet the growing demand for labor.
In 1976, Saddam rose to the position of general in the Iraqi armed forces, and rapidly became the strongman of the government. As the ailing, elderly al- Bakr became unable to execute his duties, Saddam took on an increasingly prominent role as the face of the government both internally and externally. He soon became the architect of Iraq’s foreign policy and represented the nation in all diplomatic situations. He was the de facto leader 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 accumulated a powerful circle of support within the party.
In 1979 al-Bakr started to make treaties with Syria, also under Ba’athist leadership, that would lead to unification between the two countries. Syrian President Hafez al-Assad would become deputy leader in a union, and this would drive Saddam to obscurity. Saddam acted to secure his grip on power. He forced the ailing al-Bakr to resign on 16 July 1979, and formally assumed the presidency.
Shortly afterwards, he convened an assembly of Ba’ath party leaders on 22 July 1979. During the assembly, which he ordered videotaped Saddam claimed to have found a fifth column within the Ba’ath Party and directed Muhyi Abdel-Hussein to read out a confession and the names of 68 alleged coconspirators. These members were labelled “disloyal” and were removed from the room one by one and taken into custody. After the list was read,
Saddam congratulated those still seated in the room for their past and future loyalty. The 68 people arrested at the meeting were subsequently tried together and found guilty of treason. 22 were sentenced to execution. Other high-rankingmembers ofthe partyformed the firingsquad.By1 August 1979, hundreds of high-ranking Ba’ath party members had been executed.
Western Tropical Birth Chart