Saddam Hussein joins the Ba'th Nationalist Party (age 20).
He takes part in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Iraqi President. Saddam is wounded but escapes to Damascus and then moves to Cairo where he remains in exile until it is safe to return.
The Ba'th Party seizes power. Al Bakr, now a senior military officer, related to Saddam, becomes the Prime Minister and finds him a job in the Presidential Office. Saddam builds his reputation as a ruthless party enforcer.
Following a series of violent coups, Al Bakr establishes himself as both President and PM. Saddam, as Al Bakr's protege, begins purging the opposition and promoting Ba'th loyalists putting loyal Tikriti tribesmen in all key positions.
1969 - 1978
Saddam becomes Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. He is the real force behind the regime. He nationalises the oil industry and Iraq grows rich on the proceeds. Al Bakr becomes merely a figurehead.
July 16, 1979
Al Bakr resigns for 'health reason' and Saddam becomes the President in addition to his role as Sec. General of the Ba'th Party, Chairman of the RCC and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. He has established a one man dictatorship. On assuming the presidency he immediately arrests hundreds of senior members of the Ba'th party, accusing them of taking part in a fictitious plot to overthrow him. He compels other party officials to carry out the sentences of execution.
September 22, 1980
Iraq invades Iran starting the Iran-Iraq War (longest war of 20th century).
August 20, 1988
A UN sponsored cease-fire ends it. Neither side has won. Iraq comes out of the war with $80 billion of foreign debt.
August 2, 1990
Saddam invades Kuwait. There is international outcry.
January 16 - February 27, 1991
Desert Shield changes to Desert Storm marking the start of the 1st Gulf War. For 42 days the US bombards Iraq (the most intensive aerial bombardment in military history). Bush (Snr) announces the liberation of Kuwait on February 27, 1991 and Saddam claims the victory as his own.
Anti Saddam rebellions erupt in southern Iraq and Kurdistan. These are brutally put down by Saddam. Thousands executed in mass graves.
April 6, 1991
Iraq accepts UN resolution requiring it to end production of weapons of mass destruction and to allow monitoring by the UN special commission inspection team (Unscom).
January 30, 2002
In the first state of the union address after the September 11 attacks on America, US president George Bush says Iraq is part of an 'axis of evil'.
September 12, 2002
President Bush addresses UN to put the case for war against Iraq.
March 20, 2003
The US & UK lead a coalition of multinational forces to invade. After 3 weeks the opposition use guerrilla tactics and Saddam is no longer in power.
April 9, 2003
December 13, 2003
Saddam is captured hiding in a bolthole in the ground on a farm not far from his native village of Tikrit.