Why was Iraq’s Saddam Popular in Bangladesh?

Saddam Hussein, the former President of Iraq, is a figure whose legacy continues to provoke strong emotions and debates across the world. What’s intriguing, though, is the level of popularity that Saddam Hussein achieved in Bangladesh during a particular period. In this post, we will explore the factors that contributed to Saddam’s popularity in Bangladesh and the historical context that shaped this sentiment.

1. The Iran-Iraq War and Regional Solidarity

One of the key factors behind Saddam Hussein’s popularity in Bangladesh was the Iran-Iraq War, which raged on from 1980 to 1988. Saddam Hussein served as the President of Iraq during this tumultuous period, facing numerous challenges and international isolation. In Bangladesh, many people felt a sense of solidarity with Iraq, primarily due to its status as a fellow Muslim-majority nation.

It’s worth noting that while the Bangladeshi government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, did not overtly express support for Saddam Hussein, many Bangladeshis saw Iraq’s struggle against Iran as a battle against a perceived regional threat. This sentiment led to a significant level of public support for Iraq and Saddam Hussein in Bangladesh.

2. The Perception of Iraq as an Underdog

Saddam Hussein was portrayed as an underdog by his supporters in Bangladesh. The narrative of a smaller nation (Iraq) defending itself against a more powerful neighbor (Iran) resonated with many Bangladeshis. This sense of underdog solidarity, combined with the perception of Iraq as a fellow victim of Western imperialism, garnered support among some segments of the Bangladeshi population.

3. The Role of Media

Media played a pivotal role in shaping perceptions of Saddam Hussein in Bangladesh. Iraq’s state-controlled media portrayed Saddam as a heroic figure defending his nation against foreign aggression. This narrative, disseminated through international news outlets, reached audiences worldwide, including Bangladesh. Consequently, many Bangladeshis received a one-sided perspective on the Iraq-Iran conflict, influencing their opinions.

4. Anti-Western Sentiment

During the Iran-Iraq War, anti-Western sentiment was prevalent in many parts of the world, including Bangladesh. Saddam Hussein’s confrontational stance against Western powers, particularly the United States, garnered support among those who harbored resentment against Western intervention in global affairs.

5. Geopolitical Alliances

Saddam Hussein’s government had established alliances with various countries, including some that held influence in Bangladesh. These alliances created diplomatic and economic ties, indirectly contributing to a positive image of Saddam in Bangladesh.

6. Limited Access to Information

During this period, access to diverse sources of information was limited in Bangladesh. The lack of diverse viewpoints meant that many Bangladeshis were primarily exposed to pro-Iraq narratives, leading to a skewed perception of the Iraq-Iran conflict.


Saddam Hussein’s popularity in Bangladesh was multi-faceted, shaped by factors like regional solidarity, the perception of Iraq as an underdog, media influence, anti-Western sentiment, geopolitical alliances, and limited access to information. While Saddam Hussein’s legacy remains controversial, understanding why he was popular in Bangladesh during a specific period sheds light on the complexities of international relations and public opinion.

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