Saddam Hussein (1937–2006) was the president of Iraq whose long reign was marked by brutality and war. Saddam came to power upon the resignation of President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr in 1979, and he quickly established an oppressive and retaliatory rule. In 1980, he authorized the Iraqi invasion of Iran’s oil fields, and the resulting war would last until 1988. In 1990, Saddam authorized an invasion of Kuwait, but US and UN intervention drove Iraqi forces out of the country. As a result of the Persian Gulf War, the United Nations imposed strict prohibitions and sanctions on Iraq. In the 1990s, Saddam barred UN weapons inspectors from entering Iraq. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States pushed for renewal of the disarmament of Iraq, arguing that Saddam might provide anti-American terrorist groups with support. Saddam’s failure to completely comply with UN weapons investigations led the United States and Great Britain to end diplomacy toward Iraq. In March 2003, the United States began its war on Iraq, and Saddam went into hiding. He was captured in December 2003. Saddam was found guilty of crimes against humanity in an Iraqi court and executed in 2006.

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