Iraq: Happy Birthday To Me . . .

Happy Birthday To Me . . .

When you're fiftysomething, you're entitled to a little extravagance. But few birthday parties could match the spectacle staged by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for his 53rd last month. Saddam invited Cabinet members, prominent government officials and diplomats to his home village of Tikrit for lavish festivities that included a two-hour parade and banners proclaiming YOUR CANDLES, SADDAM, ARE THE TORCHES FOR ALL THE ARABS.

At the climax of the parade, the residents of Tikrit wheeled out a simple cabin, and people dressed in the robes of ancient Babylon and Assyria prostrated themselves before it. When the cabin split open to reveal...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!