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Dictator of Iraq who seized power in 1979. With the intent of making Iraq the dominant power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. The latter invasion provoked a military response from the United Nations, led by the United States, which drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. (See Persian Gulf War.)
Note: Hussein's cruelty and deviousness have become legendary. He has ruthlessly suppressed both Shi'ite Muslims and Kurds within Iraq; in 1987 and 1988 he authorized poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages.
Note: Although widely loathed outside the Arab world and feared by most Arab governments, Hussein retains some of his appeal to the Arab masses because of his resolute defiance of the United States and western Europe.