Raghad Saddam Hussein: Her Father’s Defense and Prospects of Political Involvement in Iraq

Raghad Saddam Hussein

Raghad Saddam Hussein is the eldest daughter of Saddam Hussein, the late president of Iraq.  She took the responsibility of helping her father during the trial after which he was eventually executed in 2006. She appeared last week in an exclusive interview for Al-Arabiya Channel that aired as part of a series of interviews.

Raghad Saddam was born in Baghdad in 1967 to Saddam Hussein and his wife and cousin Sajidah Talfah. Raghad had two brothers and two sisters. She got married to her father’s cousin Hussein Kamel, who defected from Iraq and offered to share information about weapons of mass destruction with American and British intelligence. However, Kamel was convinced to return to Iraq and to be pardoned later.  After his return, Kamelwas labelled a traitor by his fellow clan members and was killed along with his brother. Raghad Saddam bore five children to Kamel, three sons and two daughters.

Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Saddam daughters had to flee their country. In her recent interview, Raghad Saddam recalled that they had no passports and fled to Syria first, with the help of some tribes that she would not name. However, they did not stay for a long time in Syria and moved to settle in Jordan where King Abdullah gave her family his personal protection.

Her brothers Qusay and Uday were killed following the invasion by US forces after a long gunfight in Mosul. Photos of their corpses were famously circulated in the media. Commenting that she did not and will not see the photos, she confirmed that she knew the informant who reported her brothers’ hiding place. Saddam also said that she lost one of her sons during the US bombing of Iraq, as her house was hit by 11 missiles. 

During the trial of her father, Saddam took the responsibility of organizing his legal defense. Eventually, when he was executed in 2006, she insisted that he should be buried in Yemen until the Iraq is free from occupation. Talking about the trial period, she said, “I spent almost exactly three years defending my father. It wasn't easy at all. When the invasion first started, we were trying to adjust to the circumstances post-invasion. I was also trying to handle my father's legal case which was not easy. President Saddam was an exceptional character. He was a head of state, first and foremost, but he was also an exceptional man, a man of stature and prestige.”

Marking 12 years after her father’s execution, Saddam directed a recorded message to the Iraqi people. She said, “I wish for you Iraqis our vision for Iraq to be more secure and stable than it is now.”

“All humanitarian and moral values have been lost, and strange ideas have been disseminated here and there. Extremism has reached the extent of exploiting religion as a cover to achieve sick objectives for many parties,” she added.

In 2018, Iraqi authorities named her on top of the country’s most-wanted list. Then, she vowed to confront all those who “insult her” by suing them back. Iraqi security services at the time had published the names of 60 people wanted on suspicion of belonging to ISIS, al-Qaeda, or the Baath Party of late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In the first part of her multi-series interview with Al-Arabiya, Saddam denounced Iranian interference in Iraqi politics. She lamented the absence of real power which led to Iran’s provocative actions in her country, saying “In light of the absence of Iraq's real and legitimate authority, Iran deemed the state free for the taking.”

“Based on my own conviction, when the deterrent becomes real, the high-ranking officials, the decision-makers, whoever they were, when they put their mind to ending this interference, they can do that,” she added. She also warned against the option of dividing her country, saying “each phase may have any requirements with the exception of dividing the homeland.”

Saddam revealed her hope to return back to Iraq and, when asked about prospects of playing a direct role in Iraqi politics, she replied, “Everything is possible.”

In a reply about her father’s decision to invade Kuwait, Saddam said that it was a wrong decision and both countries have incurred losses.

Though she described her father’s rule as a “glorious time for Iraq,” she admitted that certain cases witnessed harsh treatment. “When your president is Saddam Hussein, you have to choose between prosperity and freedom,” she told Al Arabiya.