30 December 2006

Saddam's life in Pictures

For more than 40 years the name Saddam Hussein has been inextricably linked with that of Iraq. Its president since 1979, his influence on the lives of the people of Iraq, the wider Middle East and indeed, the global stage, has been unrivalled.

Saddam Hussein grew up in the north of Iraq where he joined the Baath Party and took part in an unsuccessful coup which eventually resulted in his being imprisoned in 1963. He and fellow plotters escaped from prison (above) in 1966.

After escaping jail, he was key in bringing the Baath Party to power and by 1975 Saddam Hussein was vice-president of Iraq. Four years later he became president and within days had executed many of his rivals. He’s seen here celebrating his birthday in 1979.

After the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution, Iran-Iraq ties declined, and war began. Despite UN attempts to resolve the war, it continued for eight years. Saddam Hussein is seen here in a propaganda picture of the time, manning an RPG.

During the Iran-Iraq War Saddam Hussein enjoyed US backing from the government of Ronald Reagan. Here Saddam Hussein greets the then US envoy, Donald Rumsfeld.

Saddam Hussein's influence on daily life in Iraq could be found on every street corner as vast numbers of murals were painted and statues erected in his honour.

A number of threats to his life meant he was always accompanied by a mass of bodyguards including Irshad Yassine (above).

Away from home Saddam Hussein travelled extensively, meeting leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev, Indira Gandhi, Yasser Arafat and Cuban President Fidel Castro (above).

Nearer to home he enjoyed close ties with some other Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan. Here he watches as King Hussein of Jordan fires an AK47 assault rifle.

In 1990 he led his troops into Kuwait which plunged Iraq and the Gulf region into chaos. Saddam Hussein is seen here with British boy Stuart Lockwood, one of a number of westerners paraded on television as human shields prior to the US air assault on Baghdad.

A US-led invasion of Kuwait forced Iraq behind its borders and stripped Saddam Hussein of much of the influence he had previously enjoyed. His retreating army set fire to the Kuwaiti oilfields, resulting in a huge ecological disaster.

Throughout the 1990s he remained in power - but under the eyes of the UN inspectors who suspected him of developing weapons of mass destruction.

In 2003, after 10 years of sanctions and stop-start weapons inspections by the UN, the US decided to remove Saddam Hussein's regime from power. On the first night of military action, he narrowly escaped a targeted air strike designed to kill him.

Saddam Hussein disappeared after American forces entered Baghdad and was not seen by the world until 14 December 2003, when dramatic pictures of the aftermath of his capture were broadcast.

Post-Saddam Iraq has spiralled into increasing sectarian violence with western forces on the verge of pulling out. Here, near to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, families dig out the remains of their kin who disappeared during Saddam Hussein’s time in power.

In 2006 Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the killing of some 140 men in the mostly Shia town of Dujail, seized after a failed assassination attempt against him in 1982

On 30 December 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged in Baghdad for crimes against humanity. Iraqi television broadcast pictures of his last moments. The news reader said his death marked the end of a dark period in Iraq's history.

(courtesy of BBC)

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