Profession: Iraqi President and Dictator
Biography: A member of the Ba’ath political party, he was instrumental in its rise to power in Iraq in 1968. Throughout the 1970s he consolidated his power in the country, before formally taking over in 1979. His policies espoused a mixture of Arab nationalism and socialism.
Hussein’s dictatorship was exceptionally brutal, with the total number of deaths from purges and genocide conservatively estimated at a quarter of a million people. In 1980 he invaded neighboring Iran which started an ruinous eight-year war that led to no border changes and hundreds of thousands of war dead on both sides. In 1990 he started the Gulf War by invading and annexing Kuwait before being removed by an international coalition led by the United States.
Through the 1990s Iraq suffered from UN sanctions and isolation. Beginning in the early 2000s under the presidency of George W. Bush, Hussein was accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction and was deposed in a 2003 invasion. Though no weapons were found, he was tried of crimes against humanity and executed in 2006.