What type of government did Iraq have under Saddam Hussein?

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David P Share
May 24, 2017


It was a brutal dictatorship.


Hussein was a ruthless member of the Ba'ath Party. He was marked out as a young man for his ruthlessness and rose up through the ranks.

He played a key role in the coup which brought this party to power in 1968 and became leader in 1979.

Hussein used widespread brutality against any forms of opposition. In a predominantly Shia population he came from a Sunni background and so Shia Iraqis were some of his main targets. Others included the Marsh Arabs in the south and Kurds in the north-west.

Although he was toppled by the West in 2003, Hussein was previously a long standing ally. He was seen as an important bastion against the instability of the Shia regime in Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini and received considerable help in waging a brutal war with Iran costing over 1 million lives. This included the use of chemical weapons.

Hussein also used chemical weapons against the Kurds and again the West did nothing as Turkey, a crucial ally of the West was and still is fighting against the threat of a separate Kurdish state.

Hussein's brutality and that of his sons Uday and Qusay suggest almost sociopathic tendencies.

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