Saddam Hussein’s Atrocities Research Paper


Various reasons can result in particular people being considered as having monstrous qualities. In the recent past, Saddam Hussein is one of those people who might be regarded as being monstrous. His actions against his subjects and those who were opposed to his regime were atrocious. While some may argue that Saddam’s actions were driven by the advice from those surrounding him and the immense opposition based on religious affiliations, his actions were not justifiable.

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Saddam Hussein, who was born in 1937, served as Iraq’s fifth president from 1979 to 2003 when the United States led forces ousted him (Light et al. 389-415). Before becoming the president, Saddam had been a leading figure in the Socialist Arab Ba’ath Party, and later the Iraqi Ba’ath party. The party espoused Ba’athism, which is a combination of both socialism and Arab nationalism (Frantzman 194). Earlier in his political career and as a student, Saddam participated in the attempted assassination of the then president, Abd al-Karim Qasim (Frantzman 196). One, can therefore, conclude that Saddam had revolutionary ideologies, considering that he had attempted to assassinate the president at a young age. After failing in the assassination, Saddam fled to Egypt where he continued studying for his law degree (Frantzman 197). Saddam returned to Iraq after the killing of Qasim. He remained instrumental in the Ba’ath party, and he was appointed the president in 1979 (Light et al. 396). Saddam orchestrated the one party state where he practiced his dictatorial and inhumane leadership.

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Saddam Housein’s Atrocities

Saddam started his ruthless actions after he became the president. Records indicate that Saddam maintained torture chambers where the majority of his opponents were tortured to death. Besides, Saddam’s Sunni Islam members filled the majority of the positions of power, despite being less than 20% of the Iraqi population (Lawson 356). Consequently, the regime was faced with a lot of resistance that led to some of Saddam’s atrocious acts.

Dujail Killings

Saddam ordered the deaths of 148 Shiite men and boys in the village of Dujail in 1982 (Light et al. 400). He ordered the killings after an attempted assassination. These murders marked the beginning of his murderous rule. While there were attempts to assassinate him, the murder of 148 people was unnecessary. There were no investigations to ascertain the perpetrators of the assassination (Murauskaite 52). Besides, the people who were accused of orchestrating the assassination attempt should have been given a fair hearing in a court of law. Rather, Saddam took the law in his arms and ordered for their killing, without trial or a fair hearing. Furthermore, young boys who might not have been part of the plan were also killed. The killings generated much concern both locally and internationally (Frantzman 196). Therefore, one could argue that Saddam had monstrous qualities since he ordered the mass murder of 148 people without trial or hearing. The killings were based on hearsay.

The 1988 Al-Anfal Campaign

Saddam instituted a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish population from February to September 1988. Saddam’s cousin, Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid oversaw the Al-Anfal operation that resulted in the deaths of more than 50,000 Kurdish people (Sassoon 30). Kurdish officials and international human rights organizations argue that approximately 182,000 people were killed during the operation (Frantzman 194). The executions were carried using chemical weapons such as nerve gas and mustard gas. The attacks in the Northern Kurdish region were aimed at defeating the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that had started a rebellion against his regime (Frantzman 160). The chemical weapons attacks targeted the entire Kurdish region population and not the rebels only. However, Saddam maintained that the Iran had orchestrated the attacks. The United States, nonetheless, found that Saddam’s regime was responsible for the attacks to quell the rebellion. Therefore, Saddam’s actions of killing his subjects are monstrous.

Besides, the attacks targeted the whole population in the Kurdish region, without consideration whether one participated in the rebellion or not. The killings were vastly criticized by the United States and the entire world. The media and many human rights organizations termed the killings as a genocide targeting the Kurdish Muslims (Lawson 344).

During the 1988 Anfal campaign, civilians were also attacked in the town of Halabja. The Iraqi forces dropped bombs that contained nerve and mustard gasses on the civilian population, resulting in the deaths of more than 5,000 men, women, and children (Coughlin 56). This act is considered as one of the most gruesome crimes in the recent past since it led to the death of more than 5000 people on a single day (Frantzman 196). Other than the immediate deaths, many people still suffer from medical conditions and congenital disabilities resulting from the gas poisoning. The summary killing of civilians is a monstrous act.

The Iran-Iraq War

Saddam Hussein initiated the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war in 1980. Saddam invaded Iran after several historical border disputes. Saddam’s fear that the Iranian revolution of 1979 would inspire insurgency amongst Iraqis suppressed Shiite majority further motivated the invasion (Murauskaite 64). Saddam also wanted to dethrone Iran as the dominant state in the Gulf region (Murauskaite 68). However, an analysis of the causes of the war reveals that the attack was unnecessary. The war resulted in the deaths and injuries of more than one million Iranian and Iraqi civilians and soldiers. Furthermore, the war caused an economic loss of more than $675 billion (Coughlin 56). Therefore, Saddam’s actions of starting a war based on unfounded rationale were monstrous. Saddam led to the destruction of property, death, and displacement of numerous people to protect his personal interests.

Also, Saddam also attacked the Shiite Muslim population using chemical weapons, further escalating his injustices against civilians (Frantzman 197). The war attracted criticism and support alike from different nations. It further intensified divisions between nations such as China and the United States. Nonetheless, Saddam bore the majority of the responsibility for the war. Therefore, it could be argued that Saddam had monstrous qualities since he started a war that led to the deaths and suffering of many people. The war founded on his personal interests and the interests global leaders who were against the dominance of Iran in the Gulf region.

The 1980 Fayli Deportations and Killings

In 1980, Saddam oversaw the killings of thousands of the Fayli sect members. Additionally, more than 500,000 members of the sect were deported to Iran (Sassoon 40). His actions were founded on the belief that the sect members were Iranians, hence enemies. The Saddam regime imprisoned and put many Fayli women and children into concentration camps for no apparent reason. Such acts by a president could be considered as monstrous. Rather than protecting and taking care of his subjects, Saddam persecuted them. The Fayli sect members had not rebelled against Saddam’s rule. However, Saddam perceived them as enemies since they did not belong to his Shiite religion (Light et al. 402). The regime’s act of killing and deporting the Fayli people received condemnation from Iran and other global leaders. Human rights organizations termed Saddam’s actions a persecution of the minorities.

The Barzani Abductions

Saddam authorized his forces to abduct 8,000 men and boys from the Barzani after realizing that the clan was affiliated to the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Party during the Iraq-Iran war (Murauskaite 53). Some boys were as young as ten disappeared. It is reported that more than 5,000 abductees were never released, thus suggesting that they were executed (Light et al. 389). Massoud Barzani, the clan’s leader, was also abducted. A decade later, the remains of 512 Barzani men were found signifying that the rest of the abductees could have been killed (Lawson 364). However, Saddam denied the allegations, citing Iran for the abductions. However, in 2005 a letter that directly linked Saddam with the killings was discovered in Baghdad (Frantzman 194). Therefore, it can be argued that Saddam authorized the massacre and abduction more than 8,000 people because they were affiliated with the KDP party. One can, therefore, conclude that Saddam’s actions were monstrous in nature.

The Kuwait Invasion

In August 1990, Saddam invaded Kuwait aiming at occupying it and making it a part of Iraq. The invasion led to the Gulf war. The Saddam regime accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi’s money through slant drilling (Coughlin 66). However, it was later revealed that the war had been planned several months before the invasion. Iraq occupied Kuwait for more than seven months, naming it as the nineteenth province of Iraq until the US intervened in the war militarily (Frantzman 168). However, it later became evident that Saddam had invaded Kuwait due to Iraq’s inability to repay a debt of more than $14 billion that it had incurred during the Iraq-Iran war (Light et al. 413). Furthermore, Kuwait was producing more petroleum than Iraq, thus affecting Iraqis revenues. Therefore, it can be seen that Saddam had initiated a war with Kuwait for selfish reasons. Furthermore, the Iraqi forces torched more than 600 oil wells in Kuwait. The occupation resulted in many fatalities and economic forces, yet there were no reasons to warrant the war. The US intervened in the war militarily to liberate Kuwait. Besides, Saddam’s regime received condemnation from many global leaders.

Crimes against Humanity

Saddam oversaw many crimes against humanity and acts that could be considered as genocidal against Shi’a Arabs and the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq (Murauskaite 57). In some instances, entire villages were forcibly expelled. Furthermore, Saddam authorized the burning of their fields and houses, the demolition of their homes using bulldozers, and deliberate campaigns to eliminate the Marshes from Iraq by poisoning them with nerve and mustard gasses (Frantzman 195). Saddam summarily executed thousands of civilians for reasons such as not belonging to his faith and opposing his regime. Hence, it can be argued that Saddam was monstrous since he had little regard for human life.

Supporting International Terrorism

Saddam supported terrorists to the extent of paying them, funding their activities, and sheltering them in Iraq. The terrorists that he supported were responsible for various terrorist activities as well as the killing of United States citizens. For instance, Saddam sheltered various prominent Palestinian terrorist organizations such as the Palestine Liberation Front in Baghdad (Murauskaite 52). The terrorists were renowned for aerial attacks against Israel. Abu Abbas, who had hijacked a ship and murdered a US citizen in 1985, led the terrorist organization (Murauskaite 53). Furthermore, in 2002, Saddam increased the allowances to Palestinian suicide bombers from $10,000 to $25,000 (Coughlin 46). He ensured that there were strict scales which indicated the payments for injuries, disablement, and death during the suicide missions. Saddam made sure that the bomber’s families received the money for the death of their relatives as martyrs. Hence, it can be argued that Saddam’s actions were monstrous in nature. He had no total regard for humans since he was exploiting uneducated and poor people by urging them to die as martyrs.

Biological Weapons

In the lead up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, many defectors of the Saddam regime indicated that there were various biological weapons production plants in Iraq (Light et al. 396). Further, in 1995, a senior Iraq defector stated that Iraq had weaponized thousands of liters anthrax, aflatoxin, and botulinum toxin to be used in aerial bombs, scud heads, and aircraft (Coughlin 39). Besides, there were clear indicators that Iraqi had an advanced nuclear production program. Also, Saddam had been sourcing for nuclear components for his program (Frantzman 198). His nuclear program was not founded on any threats. Therefore, from these actions, Saddam could be considered as monstrous. The world had resolved to quit the production of chemical and biological weapons, yet Iraqi was actively producing them. Besides, these chemicals were used on the civilian population.


Saddam Hussein could be considered as having monstrous qualities because of his many crimes against humanity. It is evident that Saddam did not have respect for human life. Saddam initiated, oversaw, or funded many atrocities in Iraq and abroad. The dictator ordered multiple genocidal killings against innocent civilians. Furthermore, he developed biological and chemical weapons, which he used against his subjects and opponents. Saddam also started the Iraq-Iran war and the Kuwait-Iraq war. The dictator also actively engaged in the procurement of nuclear components, indicating that he had plans of developing nuclear warfare. Therefore, from the many incidences surrounding Saddam’s regime, the majority of which he orchestrated, the dictator could be considered as having monstrous qualities.

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