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Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq for more than two decades and is seen as a figurehead of the country's military conflicts with Iran and the United States.
Saddam Hussein was the president of Iraq for 24 years beginning in 1979. As leader of the Iraq he suppressed minorities and fought a war with Iran. He was captured by American forces during their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and executed.
A World War II veteran, George H.W. Bush served as Vice President for two terms before being elected President of the United States in 1988.
A short biography of George W. Bush who started out as governor of Texas in 1994 and then became president in 2000. From his handling of 9/11 to the Iraq War, Bush is considered one of the most polarizing presidents of the modern era.
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During that same time, however, Saddam helped develop Iraq's first chemical weapons program and, to guard against coups, created a powerful security apparatus, which included both Ba'athist paramilitary groups and the People's Army, and which frequently used torture, rape and assassination to achieve its goals.
In 1979, when al-Bakr attempted to unite Iraq and Syria, in a move that would have left Saddam effectively powerless, Saddam forced al-Bakr to resign, and on July 16, 1979,
Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq. Less than a week later, he called an assembly of the Ba'ath Party. During the meeting, a list of 68 names was read out loud, and each person on the list was promptly arrested and removed from the room. Of those 68, all were tried and found guilty of treason and 22 were sentenced to death. By early August 1979, hundreds of Saddam's political foes had been executed.
The same year that Saddam ascended to the presidency, Ayatollah Khomeini led a successful Islamic revolution in Iraq's neighbor to the northeast, Iran. Saddam, whose political power rested in part upon the support of Iraq's minority Sunni population, worried that developments in Shi-ite majority Iran could lead to a similar uprising in Iraq. In response, on September 22, 1980, Saddam ordered Iraqi forces to invade the oil-rich region of Khuzestan in Iran. The conflict soon blossomed into an all-out war, but Western nations and much of the Arab world, fearful of the spread of Islamic radicalism and what it would mean to the region and the world, laid their support firmly behind Saddam, despite the fact that his invasion of Iran clearly violated international law. During the conflict, these same fears would cause the international community to essentially ignore Iraq's use of chemical weapons, its genocidal dealing with its Kurdish population and its burgeoning nuclear program. On August 20, 1988, after years of intense conflict that left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides, a ceasefire agreement was finally reached.
In the aftermath of the conflict, seeking a means of revitalizing Iraq's war-ravaged economy and infrastructure, at the end of the 1980s, Saddam turned his attention toward Iraq's wealthy neighbor, Kuwait. Using the justification that it was a historical part of Iraq, on August 2, 1990, Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait. A UN Security Council resolution was promptly passed, imposing economic sanctions on Iraq and setting a deadline by which Iraqi forces must leave Iraq. When the January 15, 1991 deadline was ignored, a UN coalition force headed by the United States confronted Iraqi forces, and a mere six weeks later, had driven them from Kuwait. A ceasefire agreement was signed, the terms of which included Iraq dismantling its germ and chemical weapons programs. The previously imposed economic sanctions levied against Iraq remained in place. Despite this and the fact that his military had suffered a crushing defeat, Saddam claimed victory in the conflict.
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