News: Hussein Brother's Riverside Villas Demolished
Story by Spc. William Addison
When you need something built in the International Zone, you turn to the Joint Area Support Group - Central's Department of Public Works. Recently, DPW got the chance to do just the opposite when they oversaw the demolition of Uday and Qusay Hussein's river villa earlier this month.
The villa is one of several that were built along the Tigris River around 1985. Two of them were later built together and refinished ornately to resemble a palace for the former Iraqi dictator's two sons.
"Initially we were renovating quite a few of those villas to become embassies for the Iraqi government using Iraqi funds," said Air Force Capt. Michelle Sterling, project manager for the demolition of the riverside villa belonging to Saddam's two sons. "These particular villas were heavily damaged during the bombings in 2003, so much so that we couldn't renovate them."
The project, which was funded by the government of Iraq, is expected to create more space for additional embassies to be built. And with most of the labor force being local Iraqis, the project is helping to pump additional money into the local economy.
"It's a good project... you're getting people back to work, you're putting money back into the economy and that really is what's important to move forward," she said.
For Sterling, the project was an exciting change of pace to the normal construction and renovation projects DPW usually handles.
"Demolition is fun for an engineer," she said. "It's always interesting to me, from an engineering perspective; to see how different parts of the world do their construction...you can learn a lot about how somebody put something together by taking it down."
Sterling said the buildings were built uncommonly strong, utilizing a greater amount of rebar and steel reinforcement than typically needed for a building of its size. Most of the damage was confined to the areas that were specifically bombed, making a statement not about the American war technology, but the strength of the building's construction.
"These were incredibly robust buildings; they were very much overdesigned," she said.
But Sterling's interest in the building's construction didn't overshadow the feeling of tearing down the home of Saddam's notoriously brutal sons Uday and Qusay.
"It's always important in this part of the world to remember history. Nothing is easily washed away or gotten rid of. But I do think that with all the pain that the country has gone through both during Saddam's regime and then immediately following, that getting rid of some of these symbols of that pain and the oppression is important to the Iraqis," she said.