He was reared alone by his mother Subha, until she took a second husband, Ibrahim Hassan. Hassan, often said to have been brutal and a thief, was a sheepherder by profession and enlisted Saddam in his ventures. According to a former personal secretary of Hussein, his step father abused Saddam and sent him to steal chicken and sheep to be sold. This pattern continued until 1947 when, at the age of ten, he was allowed to move in with his mother's brother, Khayrallah Tulfah, in Baghdad.
In Baghdad, Hussein began to learn more than reading and writing. His tutor, Khayrallah had been "cashiered" from the Iraqi army for supporting a "Pro-Nazi" coup attempt that failed. Khayrallah's bitterness towards the British and imperialism, soon was transferred to Saddam. In fact, some confidants of Hussein point to his relationship with Tulfah as a turning point in his political awareness. To demonstrate Tulfah's importance to Hussein, he was later made Mayor of Baghdad under the Hussein regime. Saddam finished intermediate school (roughly the equivalent of 9th Grade) at the age of sixteen, and attempted to be admitted to the prestigious Baghdad Military Academy.
Unfortunately, his poor grades prevented him from doing so, and he became more deeply involved in political matters. In 1956, he participated in a non-successful coup attempt against the monarchy of King Faisal II. In 1957, he joined the Baath party, a radical nationalist movement. In 1958, a non-Baathist group of army officers succeeded in overthrowing the King. The group was led by General Abdul Qassim. In 1959, Saddam and a group of Baathist supporters attempted to assassinate Gen. Qassim by a day-light machine-gun attack. The attack was unsuccessful, but it helped to place Hussein in a leadership position in the Baathist movement and furthered the process of nationalist political indoctrination. After the attack, in which Hussein is slightly wounded, he fled to Syria. From Syria, he went to Cairo, Egypt where he would spend the next four (4) years. 2
[ Also in Cairo, In 1951, a close relative of the Mufti named Rahman Abdul Rauf el-Qudwa el-Husseini matriculated to the University of Cairo. The student decided to conceal his true identity and enlisted as "Yasser Arafat." 3 ]
Persecution was at its worst at the end of 1968. Scores were jailed upon the discovery of a local "spy ring" composed of Jewish businessmen. Fourteen men—eleven of them Jews—were sentenced to death in staged trials and hanged in the public squares of Baghdad; others died of torture. On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called upon Iraqis to "come and enjoy the feast." Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob rhythmically chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to all traitors." This display brought a world-wide public outcry that Radio Baghdad dismissed by declaring: "We hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ." 4
In 1978, Saddam had been working with othe r Arab nations to ostracize Egypt for it's diplomatic initiative in resolving Israel/Arab questions. An ally, President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, almost became the undoing of Hussein's ascension. If a Syrian/Iraqi federation were formed against Egypt, Assad, not Hussein, would rise to a position of greater power in the relationship. President Bakr would lead the federation with Assad as second in command. Hussein could not allow that to happen and began to urge the President to step down. Again with the help of his family and security apparatus, Hussein was able to accomplish his task.
On July 16, 1979, President Bakr resigned, officially due to health problems, but in reality a victim of Hussein's political in-fighting. Moving quickly to consolidate his power, he called a major Baathist meeting on July 22, 1979. During the meeting, various family members and other Hussein devotees urged that the party be "cleansed". Hussein then read a list of names and asked that they step outside. Once there, they are taken into custody.
A high-ranking member of the Revolutionary Command, the head of the labor unions, the leading Shiite member of the Command, and twenty (20) others are then systematically and personally killed by Hussein and his top party officials. During the next few days, reports indicate that as many as 450 other military officers, deputy prime ministers, and "non-party faithful" were rounded up and killed. This purge insured Hussein's consolidation of power in Iraq.
In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran and conducted an eight year war against one of his nearest neighbors and the home of Shiite fundamentalist Muslims. Again, because it appeared that the Shiites could be a threat to his continued dictatorship, the Kurds (Iraqi minority) were sprayed with poison gas for participating with the Iranians in an attempted overthrow of his country. The war continued for eight years of brutality and even repression of Hussein's own countrymen (especially the Kurds). 2
1941 - In April, in accordance to a 1930 treaty Iraq permits the British to move their troops into Iraq. Iraq appeals for Nazi support and attacks the British air base at Habbaniya. The Iraqi army is beaten and Prime Minister Rashid Ali flees the country. Britian resumes military control. The monarchy is restored. Saddam Hussein's uncle Khairallah is jailed and Saddam moves to live with his mother and step-father
1981 - On June 7th Iraq's nuclear research reactor was destroyed by an Isreali airforce attack. President Saddam arranges to have the philosophical writings of his uncle Khairallah published in a treatise titled 'Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Iranians, Jews and Flies." In September the Iraqi armed forces pull back East of the Karun river.
Around 80% of the Arab population of Iraq are Shiites who are subject to rule by a minority government of Sunni Arabs in Baghdad. The Shiite sect has been the subject of repeated harassments and persecutions by the Iraq government which views the sect as a pestilential emanation of the civilization of Iran, itself viewed as the quintessential enemy of all things Arab. The Ministry of Education of Iraq once issued a textbook for boys' high schools entitled Those Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Iranians, Jews, and Flies. Since the rise of the Baþthist Party the Iraqi government has systematically expelled around 10% of its population for the crime of having Iranian ancestry. Most Iraqi Jews have long since fled to Israel.
Kairallah was to become not only Saddam's father figure but his political mentor as well. Kairallah had fought against Great Britain in the Iraqi uprising of 1941 and had spent five years in prison for his nationalist agitation. He filled the impressionable young boy's head with tales of his heroic relatives -- his great grandfather and two great uncles -- who gave their lives for the cause of Iraqi nationalism while fighting foreign invaders. Kairallah, who was later to become governor of Baghdad, shaped young Hussein's world view, imbuing him with a hatred of foreigners. In 1981, Saddam republished a pamphlet written by his uncle entitled "Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Iranians, Jews, and Flies."
1 ABC News.Com, http://www.abcnews.go.com/reference/bios/shussein.html
2 Computers/Technical Operations, http://www.emergency.com/hussein1.htm, much more information there.
3 Canadian Friends, International Christian Embassy, http://www.cdn-friends-icej.ca/medigest/may00/arabnazi.html
4 Judith Miller and Laurie Mylroie, Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf, (NY: Random House, 1990), p. 34.
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