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Iraq: Saddam Hussein Biography --> Saddam Hussein on 19 October 2005, the first day of his trial for crimes against humanity (AFP) From Saddam Hussein's rise within the ranks of the Ba'ath Party and the Revolution Command Council to his regime's ruthless persecution of perceived enemies at home and abroad.

Born: 28 April 1937 in Tikrit, Iraq

Education: Student, University of Cairo Law School, 1962; Law degree received from Baghdad University, 1971

1956: Joins the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party (ABSP).

1958-59: Spends six months in prison for political activities against the regime of Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qassim.

1959-63: Hussein flees Iraq, going first to Damascus and later to Cairo after he participates in an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Qasim.

1960: Hussein is sentenced to death in absentia.

1963: Qasim is ousted in a coup led by the ASBP. Hussein returns to Iraq. The ASBP-led government is overthrown six months later by Colonel Abd al-Salam Muhammad Ari (a member of Qassim's government) and a group of military officers. Hussein is elected a member of the Ba'ath Party leadership.

1964-66: Saddam Hussein jailed as a member of the Ba'ath Party.

1965: Elected a member of the Ba'ath Party's Pan-Arab National Leadership while in jail.

1966: Arif is killed in a helicopter crash on 13 April; his brother, Major General Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Arif, assumes the presidency. Hussein is elected deputy secretary-general of the Ba'ath Party leadership in Iraq in September.

1967: Hussein escapes from prison.

1968: A Ba'ath-led coup deposes the Arif government. General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr becomes president. Hussein becomes vice president and deputy head of the Revolution Command Council (RCC). On 30 July, Hussein leads an operation to purge figures from the Arif regime from the new Ba'ath government. Also obtains a law degree in 1968.

1969: Elected vice chairman of the RCC.

1977: Elected assistant secretary-general of the National Pan-Arab Leadership of the ASBP.

1979: On 16 July, elected secretary-general of the Regional Leadership of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq, chairman of the RCC, and president of Iraq. On 8 October elected deputy secretary-general of the National Pan-Arab leadership of the ASBP.

1980: Iran-Iraq war begins on 4 September.

1988: Hussein's regime launches a chemical attack on the Kurds in Halabjah on 16 March, killing some 5,000 civilians. A cease-fire between Iran and Iraq begins on 20 August.

1990: Iraq invades Kuwait and Hussein announces the merger of the two states on 2 August.

1991: U.S. and Coalition Forces launch the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait on 16 February. Iraq accepts the terms of a cease-fire on 3 March. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors enter Iraq on15 May per UN resolutions that Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programs; UNSCOM inspectors begin inspections three weeks later.

1994: Iraq recognizes the boundaries of the Iraq-Kuwait border demarcated by the UN on 10 November.

1998: UNSCOM inspectors withdraw from Iraq on 15 December after months of Iraqi obstruction.

2002: Hussein agrees to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq on 17 September; reelected president for a fifth consecutive five-year term on 15 October, allegedly winning more than 99 percent of the vote, though there were no challengers. Iraq accepts UN Security Council Resolution 1441 on 13 November. Inspections resume on 27 November.

2003: UNMOVIC and IAEA heads tell the UN Security Council on 9 and 27 January, and again on 14 February and 7 March, that Iraq needs to show greater cooperation to inspectors by providing more documentation on its weapons of mass destruction programs.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presents Washington's evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism links to the UN Security Council on 5 February.

The European Union issues a joint declaration on 17 February calling on Iraq to fulfill its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and disarm peacefully.

The United States, United Kingdom, and Spain on 24 February presented a draft resolution on Iraqi disarmament to the UN Security Council which states, "Iraq has submitted a declaration pursuant to its resolution 1441 (2002) containing false statements and omissions and has failed to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, that resolution," and "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in resolution 1441 (2002)."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented six new conditions for Iraq to avoid a U.S.-led strike on Iraq to the UN Security Council on 12 March.

The Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) issues a decree on 15 March dividing Iraq into four military command regions.

British Ambassador to the UN Jeremy Greenstock tells reporters at the UN on 17 March, "The co-sponsors [of the U.S., U.K., and Spanish draft resolution] will not pursue a vote on the draft resolution," Greenstock said. "The co-sponsors reserve their right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan orders all UN personnel out of Iraq on the same day.

U.S. President George W. Bush gives Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Qusay, 48 hours to leave Iraq and avert a U.S.-led strike.

Hussein rejects U.S. ultimatum on 18 March. Coalition forces launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in the early morning hours of 20 March.

(Compiled by Kathleen Ridolfo)