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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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The Gulf War's resulting economic hardships further divided an already fractured Iraqi population. During the 1990s, various Shi-ite and Kurdish uprisings occurred, but the rest of the world, fearing another war, Kurdish independence (in the case of Turkey) or the spread of Islamic fundamentalism did little or nothing to support these rebellions, and they were ultimately crushed by Saddam's increasingly repressive security forces. At the same time,
Iraq remained under intense international scrutiny as well. In 1993, when Iraqi forces violated a no-fly zone imposed by the United Nations, the United States launched a damaging missile attack on Baghdad. In 1998, further violations of the no-fly zones and Iraq's alleged continuation of its weapons programs led to further missile strikes on Iraq, which would occur intermittently until February 2001.
Soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, Soviet intelligence relayed information to the U.S. government that indicated Iraq was planning further terrorist attacks against the United States. In his January 2002 State of the Union address, U.S. President George W. Bush named Iraq as part of his so-called "Axis of Evil," along with Iran and North Korea, and claimed that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorism.
Later that year, UN inspections of suspected weapons sites in Iraq began, but little or no evidence that such programs existed was ultimately found. Despite this, on March 20, 2003, under the pretense that Iraq did in fact have a covert weapons program and that it was planning attacks, a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq. Within weeks, the government and military had been toppled, and on April 9, 2003, Baghdad fell. Saddam, however, managed to elude capture.
In the months that followed, an intensive search for Saddam began. While in hiding, Saddam released several audio recordings, in which he denounced Iraq's invaders and called for resistance. Finally, on December 13, 2003, Saddam was found hiding in a small underground bunker near a farmhouse in ad-Dawr, near Tikrit. From there, he was moved to a U.S. base in Baghdad, where he would remain until June 30, 2004, when he was officially handed over to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for crimes against humanity.
During the subsequent trial, Saddam would prove to be a belligerent defendant, often boisterously challenging the court's authority and making bizarre statements. On November 5, 2006, Saddam was found guilty and sentenced to death. The sentencing was appealed, but was ultimately upheld by a court of appeals. On December 30, 2006, at Camp Justice, an Iraqi base in Baghdad, Saddam was hanged, despite his request to be shot. He was buried in Al-Awja, his birthplace, on December 31, 2006.
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