In Kurdistan Autonomous Region in Iraq, 9 April is a public holiday called Baghdad Liberation Day. Sometimes, it is simply referred to as Liberation Day. The day celebrates the fall of Baghdad and of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in 2003 at the end of the Second Gulf War.
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Note: Baghdad Liberation Day is observed in Kurdistan only.
Saddam Hussein began his political career in a 1968 coup in Iraq and came to power as dictator in 1979. He continued to have total control of the government until finally overthrown by US and NATO intervention in 2003.
Saddam’s rise occurred at the same time as the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Iraq’s eastern border. In 1979, while Iran was still in relative chaos, Iranian Kurds rebelled. They reached out for and received support from Saddam, and Iran countered by assisting Kurdish rebels inside Iraq.
A major rebellion of Iraqi Kurds broke out in northern Iraq in 1984, and in response, Saddam committed mass genocide on the people of Kurdistan. Though the exact numbers are in dispute, somewhere between 50,000 and 180,000 died in the purge. This background makes it obvious why Kurds everywhere were happy to see Hussein’s regime end and why Kurdistan made his demise an official holiday.