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Living with the man

O'Brien 1

Ms Springhorn

Humanities 11 (H)

October 25, 1996


The Middle East is an extremely volatile region of the world, and much of the

current instability may be due to one man, Saddam Hussein. During the last few years,

under Hussein's direction, Iraq has gone from being an oil rich country to a country that is

suffering major embargoes and is low on supplies. Iraqi leaders are trying to leave as they

realize how power can corrupt a man. If Hussein stays in power, the future looks bleak

for the Gulf region.

Iraq used to be a prosperous country. Oil was the main source of income for the

area. During the Iran-Iraq War (Gulf War 1), which was from September 1980 to August

1988, Iraq went from being a wealthy country to a very poor country, nearly over night.

Hussein had used all energy available in that war, and he came out of it losing over 1/3 of

the entire male population of Iraq (Allman 61). Saddam feels that is actions were justified

because he believes the Iran-Iraq war was a conspiracy by the US, Britain, and Israel to

undermine Iraq (Kondrache 11). This leads people of the world to believe that this is a

man who will stop at nothing to achieve what he wants. He was willing to risk his whole

nation for a more money. High financial priorities? Survey says "yes".

The basis on which Hussein is in power is controversial. He was not elected to his

position, he took it. There was a military coup in 1968 that led him and his Ba'ath party

to power. He was not elected, as until last year, there had not been an election since the

coup (Cooperman 49). This says that Hussein has been a tyrant from the start, and his

O'Brien 2

need for power is incredible. He wants complete domination of the Middle East, if not the


Iraq is now a country struggling to survive. It is in the midst of an embargo, and

the people are suffering. Death rates are up, and the amount of food available is declining.

Saddam is displaced from his people, though. He is not feeling the same effects as they


The Pursian Gulf War erupted in 1990 with Hussein ordering an invasion of

neighboring Kuwait, on the grounds that Kuwait was stealing oil from in Iraqi oil field.

The US became involved in this war for the next year, and they successfully pushed Iraq

out of Kuwait. Iraq, however, feels that it won this war. The leaders of Iraq were still in

power after the war ended, so the popular idea in Iraq is that they won the war. An

Eastern European diplomat commented "Victory is when the ruler stays in power, no

matter how many people he kills, no matter how much the country is ravaged" (Allman

62). The Gulf War was a moral victory for the Iraqis, or that is what Saddam has led

them to believe. He gained nothing for his people but a second of hope. This hope may

have already flickered out.

After the Pursian Gulf War, the US imposed an embargo on Iraq. Nothing comes

in or goes out of the country. As a result of this, there is a shortage of food and medicine.

The UN sees this problem, and has offered Saddam an option. If he agrees to Resolution

986, the country would be able to sell oil in order to buy supplies for it's people.

However, the UN would have control over how much and to whom the oil was sold.

Saddam says no, as these rules are too strict. If the UN does not ease up, thousands of

Iraqis will die. Hussein has made it look as if the UN, not himself, will be responsible for

those deaths. Saddam says "Our struggle against the embargo is a holy war" (Allman 62).

This bit of word play may be enough to keep Saddam out of trouble, but it shows that he

O'Brien 3

is not willing to compromise as he is too greedy. Perhaps he believes that he will be able

to sell the oil on the black market and make more money, which he will undoubtedly keep

for himself.

Hussein himself is a troubled man. He is the paranoid ruler of a poor country, but

he is quite rich. He has so much money that our government even has no idea what he is

worth (Church 47). He has more than 50 palaces in Iraq, and about 20 of those are in

Baghdad (Roberts 55). His people are living in the gutter but he is sitting pretty. His

family is right with him. Nearly all of his immediate family is in power, but Saddam is not

afraid to kill one of them if they do something he does not agree with (Bhatia 15). His son

is just as bad, if not worse than Saddam. Uday Hussein is a violent man, who has engaged

in a gun fight during a family dinner, and he ended up killing a few women and injuring his

uncle. He holds lavish parties where he coerces young women into copulation (Roberts

52-54). Uday does not care about his actions because he is so powerful. He is number

two in command of Iraq (Church 46). Saddam's family is corrupt, and their power is

huge. They can do anything, and this scares many people.

One of Hussein's top men, Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel al-Majid, has

recently defected from Iraq. He is willing to speak out against Saddam. He was the head

of Iraqi weapons, and he feared that if he became too powerful, he would be killed

because he was not a member of Saddam's family. When Kamel escaped, he took $30

million with him (Sid-Ahmal 16-17). This says that even Saddam's most

powerful men are afraid. Pilots are given only enough fuel to complete their mission, as it

is feared that they will try and leave the country. If this is the case, and people want to

leave, this is a sign that Saddam may be losing support. His top officials are ready to

speak to international powers about the human rights violations taking place in Iraq, such

as when 400 prisoners were shot to create room in an Iraqi jail (Bhatia 15). Saddam is

O'Brien 4

proving that there is something wrong with the way he is running his country when

incidents like that occur.

There seem to be mixed feelings toward Hussein from his people. Some people

are "grateful for all he has done for them," which doesn't appear to be much except

providing jobs for a few people who could be influential over the area's in which they live.

All Iraqi religious leaders back Saddam. Even Devil-worshippers like him because he has

given them the same religious rights as Christians and Moslems (Allman 63-65). Not

every one is satisfied, though. A vote for president, the first since the Ba'ath party came

to power, turned out as a 99% landslide for Hussein. However, it was said that if you did

not vote for him, you would have your food rations stripped for a month and you would

be sent to live in the desert. Jowad, a Shiite Muslim said, "we vote for Saddam because

we have no choice" (Cooperman 49-50). If you cannot win an election fairly, perhaps you

have too much control over your country. At this rate it seems Saddam will be in power

forever. No one else can do anything.

What can be done? There is a president of a country who is only concerned with

making money. He does not seem to care about his people, he just wants to do anything

he can and get away with it. So why doesn't someone just bump him off? One of his men

just go up and fill the old guy full of lead? Why not a US sniper, or a bomb? Won't that

solve all the problems? Unfortunately, there is no proof that Saddam's predecessor will be

any less of a tyrant. Next in line is Uday, who we know is violent. The US government

doesn't really want to go after and kill Hussein because the fear is that Iraq will become a

new Haiti for us, and we have enough problems already (Kramer 45). There was hope

that after the Gulf War a coup attempt would successfully bring down Hussein, but that

didn't materialize. Our only hope now is that US sanctions will be able to force Saddam's

regime from power (this would be necessary for Iraq to fulfill the requirements of the

O'Brien 5

sanctions) (Hashim 14). He cannot lose power, but he cannot stay in it either. What will

happen? Who knows. This area is so extreme in belief and emotion that anything may


Hussein has misused his power to create a country that is stricken with famine and

disease. He rules the country, seeking to dominate everything and to strike fear into the

hearts of people all over the world. He hurts his own people and they seem to love him

for it. He manipulates his constituents into electing him, and portrays himself as a savior.

He is a menace and must be stopped.

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