Iraq under Saddam Hussein
In July 1979, President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigned, and his chosen successor, Saddam Hussein, assumed the offices of both President and Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. He was the de facto ruler of Iraq for some years before he formally came to power. The Baath Party was now a country wide organisation, reaching down to the smallest village and most modest neighbourhood in an unprecedented way. In addition, the Popular army and the youth organisation brought ever larger numbers into the paramilitary formations established by the regime. Finally, Sadam Husain established a National Assembly in March 1980, setting up the first parliament since the overthrow of the Monarchy in 1958. It was meant to create the impression of national unity and to give Saddam Hussain another forum for presenting himself as the national leader.
The new regime modernized the countryside and rural areas of Iraq, mechanizing agriculture and establishing farm cooperatives. 
Saddam's organizational prowess was credited with Iraq's rapid pace of development in the 1970s; development went forward at such a fevered pitch that two million persons from other Arab countries and even Yugoslavia worked in Iraq to meet the growing demand for labor.
However, Hussein's ambition soon led him to be involved in various conflicts, with disastrous results to the infrastructure of Iraq.
Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war, the Iran–Iraq War (1980 – 1988, termed Qādisiyyat-Saddām – 'Saddam's Qādisiyyah'), which devastated the economy. Iraq declared victory in 1988 but actually achieved a weary return to the status quo ante bellum. The war left Iraq with the largest military establishment in the Persian Gulf region but with huge debts and an ongoing rebellion by Kurdish elements in the northern mountains. The government suppressed the rebellion using chemical weapons on the rebels. Eight years of war had taken a terrible toll of the Iraqi population: the war had cost Iraq an estimated quarter of those had been victims of the Iraqi Kurds; over 60,000 Iraqis remained prisoners of the Iranians; nearly one milion Iraqis now served in the armed forces.
A mass chemical weapons attack on the city of Halabja in March 1988 during the Iran–Iraq War is usually attributed to Saddam's regime, although responsibility for the attack is a matter of some dispute. Saddam maintained his innocence in this matter up to his execution in December 2006. Almost all current accounts, influenced by special interests, of the incident regard the Iraqi regime as the party responsible for the gas attack (as opposed to Iran), and the event has become iconic in depictions of Saddam's cruelty. Estimates of casualties range from several hundred to at least 7,000 people. The Iraqi government continued to be supported by a broad international community including most of the West, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China, which continued sending arms shipments to combat Iran. Indeed, shipments from the US (though always a minority) increased after this date, and the UK awarded £400 million in trade credits to Iraq ten days after condemning the massacre .
In the late 1970s, Iraq purchased a French nuclear reactor, dubbed Osirak or Tammuz 1. Construction began in 1979. In 1980, the reactor site suffered minor damage due to an Iranian air strike, and in 1981, before the reactor could be completed, it was, in violation of International LawsTemplate:Fact, destroyed by the Israeli Air Force (see Operation Opera).
Invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War
A long-standing territorial dispute led to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq accused Kuwait of violating the Iraqi border to secure oil resources, and demanded that its debt repayments should be waived. Direct negotiations began in July 1990, but they soon failed. Saddam Hussein had an emergency meeting with April Glaspie, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, on 25 July 1990, airing his concerns but stating his intention to continue talks. April Glaspie informed Saddām that the United States had no interest in border disputes between Iraq and Kuwait, as was the U.S. government's official tone on the subject at the time. Subsequent events would prove otherwise, however this was said to Saddam in hopes that it would prevent him from attacking.
Arab mediators convinced Iraq and Kuwait to negotiate their differences in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on 1 August 1990, but that session resulted only in charges and counter-charges. A second session was scheduled to take place in Baghdad, but Iraq invaded Kuwait the following day. Iraqi troops overran the country shortly after midnight on 2 August 1990. The United Nations Security Council and the Arab League immediately condemned the Iraqi invasion. Four days later, the Security Council imposed an economic embargo on Iraq that prohibited nearly all trade with Iraq.
Iraq responded to the sanctions by annexing Kuwait as the "19th Province" of Iraq on 8 August, prompting the exiled Sabah family to call for a stronger international response. Over the ensuing months, the United Nations Security Council passed a series of resolutions that condemned the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and implemented total mandatory economic sanctions against Iraq. Other countries subsequently provided support for "Operation Desert Shield". Acting on the policy of the Carter Doctrine, and out of fear the Iraqi Army cauld launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, U.S. President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the U.S. would launch a "wholly defensive" mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia. Operation Desert Shield was when U.S. troops were moved into Saudi Arabia on 7 August 1990. In November 1990, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 678, permitting member states to use all necessary means, authorizing military action against the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait and demanded a complete withdrawal by 15 January 1991.
When Saddam Hussein failed to comply with this demand, the Gulf War (Operation "Desert Storm") ensued on 17 January 1991 (3am Iraqi time), with allied troops of 28 countries, led by the US launching an aerial bombardment on Baghdad. The war, which proved disastrous for Iraq, lasted only six weeks. One hundred and forty-thousand tons of munitions had showered down on the country, the equivalent of seven Hiroshima bombs. Probably as many as 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians were killed.
Allied air raids destroyed roads, bridges, factories, and oil-industry facilities (shutting down the national refining and distribution system) and disrupted electric, telephone, and water service. Conference centres and shopping and residential areas were hit. Hundreds of Iraqis were killed in the attack on the Al-Amiriyah bomb shelter. Diseases spread through contaminated drinking water because water purification and sewage treatment facilities could not operate without electricity.
A cease-fire was announced by the US on 28 February 1991. UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar met with Saddam Hussein to discuss the Security Council timetable for the withdraw of troops from Kuwait. Iraq agreed to UN terms for a permanent cease-fire in April 1991, and strict conditions were imposed, demanding the disclosure and destruction of all stockpiles of weapons.
Iraq under UN Sanction
On 6 August 1990, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Security Council sanctions committee. After the end of the Gulf War and after the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, the sanctions were linked to removal of weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687 . From 1991 until 2003 the effects of government policy and sanctions regime led to hyperinflation, widespread poverty and malnutrition. The historically generous state welfare provision that had been central to the regime's governing strategy disappeared overnight. The large and well-educated middle class that had grown in the years of plenty to form the bedrock of Iraqi society was impoverished. The story of Iraq from 1991 until 2003 is of a country suffering a profound macroeconomic shock.
The United States, citing a need to prevent the genocide of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq and the Kurds to the north, declared "air exclusion zones" north of the 36th parallel and south of the 32nd parallel. The Clinton administration judged an alleged assassination attempt on former President George H. W. Bush by Iraqi secret agents to be worthy of a military response on 27 June 1993. The Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters in Baghdad was targeted by Tomahawk cruise missiles.
During the time of the UN sanctions, internal and external opposition to the Ba'ath government was weak and divided. In May 1995, Saddam sacked his half-brother, Wathban, as Interior Minister and in July demoted his Defense Minister, Ali Hassan al-Majid. These personnel changes were the result of the growth in power of Saddām Hussein's two sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, who were given effective vice-presidential authority in May 1995. In August Major General Husayn Kāmil Hasan al-Majīd, Minister of Military Industries and a political ally of Saddam, defected to Jordan, together with his wife (one of Saddam's daughters) and his brother, Saddam, who was married to another of the president's daughters; both called for the overthrow of the Iraqi government. After a few weeks in Jordan, being given promises for their safety, the two brothers returned to Iraq where they were killed.
During the latter part of the 1990s the UN considered relaxing the sanctions imposed because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis. According to UN estimates, between 500,000 and 1.2 million children died  during the years of the sanctions. The United States used its veto in the UN Security Council to block the proposal to lift the sanctions because of the continued failure of Iraq to verify disarmament. However, an oil for food program was established in 1996 to ease the effects of sanctions.
Iraqi cooperation with UN weapons inspection teams was questioned on several occasions during the 1990s. UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Richard Butler withdrew his team from Iraq in November 1998 because of Iraq's lack of cooperation. The team returned in December. Butler prepared a report for the UN Security Council afterwards in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the level of compliance . The same month, US President Bill Clinton authorized air strikes on government targets and military facilities. Air strikes against military facilities and alleged WMD sites continued into 2002.
2003 invasion of Iraq
- Main article: 2003 invasion of Iraq
After the terrorist attacks by the group formed by the multi-millionaire Saudi Osama bin Laden on New York and Washington in the United States in 2001, American foreign policy began to call for the removal of the Ba'ath government in Iraq. Conservative think-tanks in Washington had for years been urging regime change in Baghdad, but until the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, official US policy was to simply keep Iraq complying with UN sanctions. The Iraq Liberation Act, fully three years prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, codified regime change in Iraq as the official policy of the United States government. It was passed 99-0 by the United States Senate.
The US urged the United Nations to take military action against Iraq. The American president George Bush stated that Saddām had repeatedly violated 16 UN Security Council resolutions. The Iraqi government rejected Bush's assertions. A team of U.N. inspectors, led by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix was admitted, into the country; their final report stated that Iraqis capability in producing "weapons of mass destruction" was not significantly different from 1992 when the country dismantled the bulk of their remaining arsenals under terms of the ceasefire agreement with U.N. forces, but did not completely rule out the possibility that Saddam still had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The United States and the United Kingdom charged that Iraq was hiding Weapons and opposed the team's requests for more time to further investigate the matter. Resolution 1441 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on 8 November 2002, offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous UN resolutions, threatening "serious consequences" if the obligations were not fulfilled. The UN Security Council did not issue a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.
Coalition occupation of Iraq
- Main article: Iraq War
In 2003, after the American and British invasion, Iraq was occupied by Coalition forces. On 23 May 2003, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution lifting all economic sanctions against Iraq.
As the country struggled to rebuild after three wars and a decade of sanctions, it was racked by violence between a growing Iraqi insurgency and occupation forces. Saddam Hussein, who vanished in April, was captured on 13 December 2003.
- Baram, A. "Culture, History and Ideology i the formation of Bathist Iraq 1968-1989" London, 1991, pp. 97-116.
- Template:Cite book
- Tripp, Charles. "A History of Iraq" Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002, p.248
- David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 504 pp., I.B. Tauris, 2004, ISBN 1850434166, pp. 359
- William Ochsenwald & Sydney N. Fisher, The Middle East: A History, 768 pp., McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0072442336, pg 659
- The US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that the attack was carried out by Iran, a version of events supported by the CIA during the early 1990s . See also an opinion piece by CIA analyst Stephen C Pelletiere, in which he concludes that there is no basis for a judgement as to whether Iran or Iraq was responsible for the attack .
- "The Operation Desert Sheild/Desert Storm Timeline" Retrieved on 20/03/09.
- Fawn, Rick. and Hinnebusch, Raymond. "The Iraq War: Causes and Consequences" Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, 2006, p.212.
- Richard BUTLER, Saddam Defiant, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2000, p. 224