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 twenty years in the past.

The 121-meter (396 ft) “al-Mansur,” an emblem of Saddam’s wealth and energy when it was constructed within the Eighties, is at the moment a vacation spot for sightseers and fisherman who clamber aboard the wreck to picnic and drink tea.

“When it was owned by the previous president, nobody might come near it,” stated fisherman Hussein Sabahi, who enjoys ending an extended day on the river with a cup of tea aboard the wreck.

“I can’t imagine that this belonged to Saddam and now I’m the one shifting round it,” he stated.

Saddam issued orders for the yacht, which he by no means boarded, to depart its mooring at Umm Qasr to Basra for safekeeping a couple of weeks after the invasion bought 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 all the things from its chandeliers and furnishings to components of its metallic construction eliminated.

One in every of three yachts owned by Saddam, the yacht might accommodate as much as 200 friends and was geared up 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 became a lodge in Basra.

Although some Iraqis say the wreck ought to be preserved, successive governments haven’t allotted funds to recuperate it.

“This yacht is sort of a treasured jewel, like a uncommon masterpiece you retain at house,” stated Zahi Moussa, a naval captain who works on the Iraqi ministry of transport.

“We really feel unhappy that it appears to be like like this.”

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