Floating in a river in southern Iraq, the wreck of Saddam Hussein’s ship serves as a reminder of his iron rule that ended with the invasion. of the US in the last two decades.
The 121 meter (396 ft) “al-Mansur”, a symbol of Saddam’s wealth and power when it was built in the 1980s, is now a place for tourists and fishermen who climb on board to picnic and drink tea.
“When the former president owned it, no one could come close to it,” said fisherman Hussein Sabahi, who likes to end a long day on the river. and a teacup on the wrecked ship.
“I can’t believe this belongs to Saddam and now I’m walking around,” he said.
Saddam gave an order for the ship, which he did not go on, to leave its anchor at Umm Qasr in Basra for safekeeping a few weeks after the attack began on March 20, 2003.
But it was targeted by the US leadership, and it was later diverted to the Shatt al-Arab canal when it fell into disrepair.
In the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam, the ship was opened and looted, along with everything from its lights and furniture to parts of its steel structure.
One of the three ships owned by Saddam, the ship can accommodate 200 guests and was equipped with a helipad.
US officials estimated in 2003 that Saddam and his family may have amassed $40 billion in illicit funds.
Another of his ships has become a hotel in Basra.
Although some Iraqis said that the ruins should be preserved, subsequent governments did not allocate funds to restore them.
“This ship is like a jewel, like a rare masterpiece that you keep at home,” said Zahi Moussa, a sea captain who works in the department of Iraqi transport.
“We feel sad that it seems like this.”
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