Saddam’s rusting yacht serves as picnic spot for Iraqi fishermen
Capsized in a river in southern Iraq, the rusting wreck of a yacht that belonged to Saddam Hussein serves as a stark reminder of his iron-fisted rule that ended with the US-led invasion 20 years in the past.
The 121-metre (396 ft) “al-Mansur”, an emblem of Saddam’s wealth and energy when it was constructed within the Eighties, is immediately a vacation spot for sightseers and fishermen who clamber aboard the wreck to picnic and drink tea.
“When it was owned by the previous president, nobody might come near it,” mentioned fisherman Hussein Sabahi, who enjoys ending an extended day on the river with a cup of tea aboard the wreck.
“I can’t consider that this belonged to Saddam and now I am the one shifting round it,” he mentioned.
Saddam issued orders for the yacht, which he by no means boarded, to go away its mooring at Umm Qasr to Basra for safekeeping a number of weeks after the invasion acquired underway on March 20, 2003.
But it surely was focused by US-led forces, and later capsized within the Shatt al-Arab waterway because it fell into decay.
Within the turmoil that adopted Saddam’s downfall, the yacht was stripped naked and looted, with every little thing from its chandeliers and furnishings to elements of its steel construction eliminated.
One in all three yachts owned by Saddam, the yacht might accommodate as much as 200 visitors and was outfitted with a helipad.
US officers estimated in 2003 that Saddam and his household might have amassed as much as $40 billion in ill-gotten funds.
One other of his yachts has been become a lodge in Basra.
Although some Iraqis say the wreck must be preserved, successive governments haven’t allotted funds to get better it.
“This yacht is sort of a treasured jewel, like a uncommon masterpiece you retain at residence,” mentioned Zahi Moussa, a naval captain who works on the Iraqi ministry of transport.
“We really feel unhappy that it seems to be like this.”