Former friend becomes arch enemy

PUBLISHED: 16:56 18 January 2007 | UPDATED: 22:30 28 May 2010

THE execution of Saddam Hussein took place within days of another grisly milestone of the U.S. occupation - the 3,000th American soldier killed in Iraq. Most Americans know little of the long and vile relationship between the U.S. and Saddam Hussein. It

THE execution of Saddam Hussein took place within days of another grisly 'milestone' of the U.S. occupation - the 3,000th American soldier killed in Iraq.

Most Americans know little of the long and vile relationship between the U.S. and Saddam Hussein.

It goes back to 1959, when the CIA enlisted Hussein's help in undermining the government of radical nationalist Abdul Karim Qasim.

When Hussein's Baath Party came to power permanently in 1968, the CIA showed its support by fingering Iraqi Communist Party members and other dissidents, who were rounded up, tortured and killed.

A decade later, Hussein launched a war on Iran, at a cost of more than a million Iraqi and Iranian lives, that would last most of the 1980s.

The US quietly backed Iraq with money, intelligence and weapons, seeing an opportunity to recover the influence it lost over the Persian Gulf region after its strongman, the Shah of Iran, was toppled in 1979.

One of George Bush's favourite accusations against Hussein is that he used chemical weapons against his own people.

Those weapons were first used against Iran, and the components for them came straight from the stockpiles of the US and other Western nations.

US support for Saddam Hussein continued after the war ended, up to the eve of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, at which point, overnight, he went from being an ally to a modern-day Hitler.

But Hussein hadn't changed. The US government's assessment of his reliability had, so he became an enemy.

JOHN SMITHEE

Kingsley Avenue

Wisbech

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