December 2, 2023

The wreckage of Saddam Hussein’s yacht attracts tourists in Iraq | world

An aerial photo shows the private yacht of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein al-Mansur on the Shatt al-Arab waterway that formed at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the city of Basra, southern Iraq, on October 9, 2022 – Photo: Hussein Faleh/AFP

At the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq, the image seems to have been frozen in time: The wreckage of a yacht that sank 20 years ago has rusted, when the US-led invasion of the country ended decades of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive rule. It comes with an extension Mansour (Al-Muntasir), which belonged to the former dictator and today has become a tourist attraction and a meeting place for picnics among local fishermen.

measurement 120 metres and weighs more than 7 thousand tonsThe vintage presidential yacht was assembled in Finland and delivered to Iraq in 1983, according to the website of Danish designer Knud E. Hansen, who is in charge of the work. Today, what was once a symbol of the former Iraqi leader’s wealth and megalomania lies at his side, half submerged, as little more than a fragile echo of the false glories of the past.

“When it belonged to the former president, no one approached it,” said fisherman Hussein Sabahi, who likes to end a long day on the Shatt al-Arab river with a cup of tea on the shipwreck. “I find it hard to believe that this is about Saddam and I am now walking around here,” he added.

The ship was blown up during the US-led invasion of Iraq

Al Mansour was bombed in March 2003

In the immediate lead-up to the invasion on March 20, 2003, Al Mansour was anchored in the Gulf. A few weeks later, however, Saddam ordered the yacht, which he had never boarded, to leave the yacht’s berth at Umm Qasr.

The ship was then transferred to Basra, where it is currently located, “to protect it from bombing by American planes,” according to Naval Engineer Ali Muhammad. “This was a failure.” added.

According to the former head of the heritage of Basra Qahtan al-Obaid in March 2003 Several attacks were made on the yacht over a period of several days. “It was bombed at least three times, but it never sank,” he says.

In photographs taken by an AFP photographer in 2003, Al Mansour can still be seen floating in the water, her upper decks scorched by a fire that broke out as a result of the bombing. But by June of that year, the boat was already beginning to tip. The deciding factor was when the engines were stolen. “This created holes and water entered, causing him to lose his balance,” Obeid said.

A file photo taken on April 10, 2003 shows Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s luxury yacht, al-Mansur, docked in Basra after it was bombed during the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In the turmoil that followed the fall of Saddam, it was The yacht was ransacked. Almost everything was removed, from the chandeliers and furniture to parts of its metal frame. Since then, it has collapsed. Although some Iraqis advocate preserving the wreck, successive governments have failed to allocate funds for its restoration.

“This yacht is like a precious jewel, like a rare masterpiece that you keep at home,” said Zahi Musa, a sea captain working for the Iraqi Ministry of Transport. “It saddens us that this is the case.”