Frontline World

IRAQ - Truth and Lies in Baghdad, November, 2002


THE STORY
Synopsis of "Truth and Lies in Baghdad"

INTERVIEW WITH SAM KILEY
Undercover in Iraq


IRAQ'S RULING CLASS
Saddam's Family Tree and Son Uday


U.N. SANCTIONS
Are They Helping or Hurting?


PRESS IN IRAQ
Reporting from a Closed State


RELATED FRONTLINE REPORTS
Coverage of Saddam's Regime


FACTS & STATS
Country Profile of Iraq


LINKS & RESOURCES
Human Rights, Politics, Weapons


MAP

REACT TO THIS STORY
   


A Family Affair: Iraq's Ruling Class
Click on the squares below to find out more about Saddam's family.
Graphic outlining Saddam's family tree

Saddam Hussein was born into the al-Khatab clan, which was based in a village of mud-brick houses near Tikrit, a decayed textile town in the plains of northern Iraq.

The tribal people of Tikrit and the surrounding area belonged to the Sunni Muslim sect. They had long been known as a difficult lotăcunning, secretive and warlike. After World War I, one British official wrote about their "ancient reputation for savagery and brutality." And Iraqi writer Kamran Karadaghi has cited the Tikritis' favorite saying as "Kill him and end his news." Many men from this region saw the army as their route to power, and Saddam Hussein was no exception. He just went farther than most, first moving into regional leadership, then beyond.

By the time Saddam reached the national stage, Baghdad hadn't witnessed such unchecked power since the days of the medieval caliphs. And as in the kingdoms of yore, where the ruler's extended family constituted a court, with princes, great nobles and lesser lords, Saddam Hussein appointed his extended family members to the senior ranks of his regime. His rule has always reflected intense loyalties based on clan connections and bloodlines -- but it also has been characterized by interfamily tension, betrayals and defections.

As one of Saddam's associates once said, "There is no real mystery about the way we run Iraq. We run it exactly as we used to run Tikrit."

Links Relevant to This Feature:

Secrets of His Life and Leadership
Visit the FRONTLINE Web page "The Survival of Saddam" and read an interview with journalist Said Aburish, author of The Politics of Revenge, who shares insights on the influences of tribal society on Saddam's rule.

Tales of the Tyrant
Read a chilling study of Saddam Hussein and his daily life by Mark Bowden for The Atlantic Monthly.

NEXT: Read about Uday Saddam Hussein: The Second-Most Feared Man in Iraq

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Producer: Angela Morgenstern; Designed by: Fluent Studios; see full web credits.

Photo: Hussein Kamel
Credit: Agence France-Presse

Photo: Saddam sons
Credit: Agence France-Presse

Photo: Family portrait
Credit: Agence France-Presse