Hussein, Saddam Hussein, Saddam (sädäm' h OO sān') [ key ], 1937–2006, Iraqi political leader. A member of the Ba'ath party , he fled Iraq after participating (1959) in an assassination attempt on the country's prime minister; in Egypt he attended law school. Returning to Iraq in 1963 after the Ba'athists briefly came to power, he played a significant role in the 1968 revolution that secured Ba'ath hegemony. Hussein held key economic and political posts before becoming Iraq's president in 1979. As president, he focused on strengthening the Iraqi oil industry and military and gaining a greater foothold in the Arab world while using brutal measures to maintain his power. In 1980 he escalated a long-standing dispute with Iran over the Shatt al Arab waterway into a full-scale war (see Iran-Iraq War ) lasting eight years. On Aug. 2, 1990, Hussein ordered an Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait ; however, Iraq was forced out in early 1991 by an international military coalition (see Iraq
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