10 Failed 20th-Century Coups

9′ Attempted Coup Against Saddam Hussein Iraq, 1996

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s tyrannical president for more than 20 years, ruled with a bloody, iron fist. After coming to power in 1979, Hussein quickly eliminated any opposition by ordering the execution of all outright political threats. A decade before Saddam’s execution in 2006, an attempted coup fell apart almost as soon as it began.

In early 1996, US president Bill Clinton commissioned a reportedly $100-million attempt to oust the Iraqi president through collaborative efforts by the CIA, British intelligence, and a large number of Kurdish and Iraqi agents and recruits. The team, which used the “Iraqi National Accord” (INA) as a front organization, was based in Amman, Jordan, and was led by Dr. Iyad Mohammed Alawi, a former member of the Iraq’s ruling Baath party.

The operation, code-named the “Silver Bullet coup,” was to be carried out at a time when Baghdad was vulnerable as a result of weak relationships within Saddam’s regime and a strained relationship with the king of Jordan. However, things began to quickly go south before the team could complete the mission. Dr. Alawi began to openly admit to the media that he wanted a coup to oust Hussein. Behind the scenes, it was realized that a number of the CIA’s recruits were double agents, the INA’s satellite transmissions were hijacked, and President Hussein knew of their plans. The coup was foiled instantly.

Hussein arrested 160 military officers and conspirators, many of whom were executed.

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