NEW YORK (Dec. 15)
The capture of Saddam Hussein puts another nail in the coffin of an Arab dictatorship known for its anti-Israel activity and rhetoric.
Here are some of the most significant events in Saddam’s regime and his contentious relationship with Israel:
v.. 1957 — Saddam joins the Baath Party.
w.. 1969 — Saddam is appointed vice president by President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Soon afterward, Iraq hangs 17 alleged spies, including 11 Jews, in what is seen as Saddam’s first strong message to Israel.
x.. 1979 — Saddam becomes president of Iraq, carrying out a bloody purge in which dozens of military officers and party officials are executed.
y.. 1980-1988 — Israel is mainly on the back burner for Saddam as Iraq is embroiled in a bloody war with Iran.
z.. 1981 — Israel bombs Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak. Israeli officials defend the strike in the face of worldwide condemnation, arguing that Saddam’s regime is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Years later, some of the same voices that condemned Israel in 1981 say the strike was the correct move.
aa.. Late 1980s — Iraqi and Israeli officials engage in high-level contacts in an attempt to end mutual hostilities.
ab.. 1991 — Iraq fires Scud missiles at Israel during the Persian Gulf War. Under American pressure, Israel does not respond militarily. Casualties and damage from the attacks are minimal, but the rain of missiles traumatizes many Israelis and strengthens Saddam’s image among Arabs.
ac.. 1992 — Five Israeli soldiers are killed in a military accident in Tze’elim. Though Israel never said so publicly, the exercise is believed to have been training for an assassination attempt on Saddam.
ad.. 2000-2003 — Saddam provides millions of dollars in cash payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers during the current intifada.
ae.. 2003 — Despite fears that he would again strike Israel, Saddam does not fire missiles at the Jewish state during the U.S.-led war in Iraq. On Dec. 13, Saddam is captured by U.S. forces near his hometown of Tikrit.