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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Who's who in Iraq
Saddam Hussein
Saddam holds all of the top jobs in Iraq

There is, of course, only one "who" in Iraq - Field Marshall Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti.

He is president and head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, chairman of the Revolution Command Council and secretary of the Iraqi Command of the Baath Party.

Saddam Hussein came to prominence in 1959 when he tried to assassinate the president, and came to power in 1979 after leading an internal coup. He eliminated opponents by having them shot.

Saddam propaganda poster
Saddam's party apparatus wields huge power in Iraq
He has survived the bloody, unsuccessful 1980-88 war against Iran, and the "Mother of all Battles", the Gulf War in 1991.

His security apparatus has ensured that a number of coup attempts against him have failed.

But even Saddam Hussein cannot rule alone.

To maintain his power structure, he relies on two pillars of support - his family from his home town of Takriti, north of Baghdad, and fellow revolutionaries who have been with him for years and who stand and fall with him.

The Sons

Saddam's two sons in particular vie for power and influence - and try to position themselves to take over one day.

Qusay: The current favourite seems to be the younger son Qusay, cast very much in his father's mould.

Saddam and Qusay Hussein
Youngest son Qusay seems to be his father's current favourite
In May 2001, the London based Arab newspaper al-Hayat said that Qusay "has covered half the ground towards succeeding his father".

Qusay has concentrated on building his own power base in Iraq's military and security organisations.

He is referred to in the media as "supervisor" of the Republican Guard, but is also reported to have internal security roles.

In May 2001 he was elected to the Iraqi Command of the Baath Party. The Baath Party is spread across the Arab world and aims for Arab unity.

Whoever leads it in a particular country is important.

Qusay's "election" (appointment in effect) was taken by many as a sign that the succession is going his way.

Uday: Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, is a far more flamboyant character but even he appears to have exhausted a father's patience.

Saddam and Uday Hussein
Uday has slipped in his father's estimation
He is reputed to be fond of selecting girls off the street to be "invited" to spend time with him, and to have shot dead one of the Saddam's own bodyguards in an argument.

Uday himself narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 1996 which gravely injured him.

His power base is in his ownership of a number of media outlets, including a newspaper Babil and a popular rock station called VOI ( Voice of Iraq) FM.

Ironically, this plays American and British music.

Uday also formed own militia force and got himself elected to the National Assembly.

Other key figures

Ali Hasan al-Majid: A key member of the clan is Saddam Hussein's cousin General Ali Hasan al-Majid.

General Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hasan al-Majid is a key Saddam ally and former 'governor' of Kuwait
He is known by the Kurds as "Chemical Ali" because he was in charge of the Iraqi forces which launched a chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.

He was initially "Governor" of Kuwait after the 1990 invasion and is believed to have taken part in the repression of the uprisings by the Kurds and the Shias after the Gulf War.

He is a member of the key Revolution Command Council and a dependable ally of the Iraqi leader, unlike a number of other of Saddam's relatives who have, fatally for some of them, fallen out of favour at different times.

Tariq Aziz: During the Gulf War, when he was foreign minister, Tariq Aziz became well known internationally.

Tariq Aziz
Tariq Aziz has remained an influential force
A Christian, Aziz is an old revolutionary colleague of Saddam's, a forceful voice against Western influence in the region, and a great survivor.

He had a rocky period in 2001 when his son was reported to have been arrested for corruption.

No longer foreign minister, he nevertheless retains a position on the Revolution Command Council and is a deputy prime minister.

Tariq Aziz famously refused to accept a letter from President George Bush to Saddam Hussein at a meeting with the US Secretary of State James Baker in Geneva just before the Gulf War.

From that moment, war was inevitable.

Naji Sabri al-Hadithi: The current foreign minister and the man who has had the task of leading Iraq's diplomatic effort to undermine support for an American attack is Naji Sabri al-Hadithi.

He is more of a technocrat than a political leader, though from a powerful family. He was ambassador to Austria before being promoted.

Some see him as an interim figure who lacks the weight to present Iraq's case powerfully.

He has a doctorate in English literature and was deputy information minister during the Gulf War. He once ran Iraq's press office in London.

His brother was arrested in 1979.

He is said to be close to Qusay which might explain why he has been thrust into a prominent position.

Izzat Ibrahim and Taha Yasin Ramadan: Two of Saddam's closest aides are Izzat Ibrahim and Taha Yasin Ramadan.

They always seem to be present in pictures of Saddam's important meetings, and are his enforcers.

Izzat Ibrahim was reported by the New York Times to have warned the Kurds in January 1991 not to cause trouble during the Gulf War.

Izzat Ibrahim
Izzat Ibrahim delivered a chilling warning to the Kurds
He reminded them of the chemical attack on Halabja with the words: "I would like to remind you that we are ready to repeat the operation."

He is vice president of the Revolution Command Council and has been used in 2002 to try to woo Iraq's neighbours.

He has exchanged an embrace with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and has promised to respect the "territorial integrity" of Kuwait.

He narrowly escaped arrest on a war crimes warrant in Austria once while being treated for suspected cancer.

Taha Yasin Ramadan is one of vice presidents, though the title does not necessarily mean he would take over from the president.

Taha Yasin Ramadan
Taha Yasin Ramadan has an alleged Bin Laden connection
He is also used as an enforcer and as an envoy depending on the leader's need of the moment.

The Americans are interested in him because he is reported to have entertained Osama Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in Baghdad in 1998.

"US threats will not scare us," is one of his quotes, which sums up Saddam's approach.

He is accused by exiles of ordering his tanks to run over rebels who took part in the uprising against Saddam in southern Iraq in 1991.

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