Saddam in Mauritius?
November 9, 2008 4:25 AM   Subscribe

This summer, I was vacationing in Mauritius when I got lost, near the town of Pamplemousses, North of the capital Port Louis. Trying to find my way among the sugar plantations I drove past an isolated house that was festooned with old-style Iraqi flags. The entrance was guarded by two guys in "Republican Guard"-style military fatigues, black berets and all. I prudently decided against stopping, never mind taking pictures, but the question has been bothering me ever since: WTF was that about?! A cult and/or weird political grouping? Or is maybe Saddam alive and well in a tropical paradise (one would think he'd be a bit more discreet about it)? Despite my Google-Fu, I haven't been able to find an answer, so I turn to you, dear MetaFilter friends: Does anybody know what that was about?
posted by Skeptic to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
You may have stumbled upon the Iraqi diplomatic station in Mauritania. As I'd venture to guess that that particular mission probably doesn't receive the same kind of attention that, say, the embassy in Washington or London does, it's entirely possible that the Iraqi "government" simply didn't send new flags or fatigues. But they do have diplomatic presence there,

As embassies of all stripes don't generally take kindly to gawkers, moving along was probably a good idea.
posted by valkyryn at 4:42 AM on November 9, 2008


That was Mauritius, not Mauritania. Their website doesn't list a mission in Mauritius.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:48 AM on November 9, 2008


It was certainly not an embassy, valkyryn. For starters, it was in the wilderness, and it definitely lacked the grandeur. And, as previous posters have pointed out, Mauritius doesn't lie anywhere near Mauritania, except in dictionaries, and Iraq doesn't have a diplomatic mission in Mauritius.
posted by Skeptic at 4:55 AM on November 9, 2008


Wow, strange. Did Iraq never have a mission to Mauritius, or do they just not have one now? It could be some former Baathist big-shot who didn't want to go home under the new administration, maybe. All flying the flags for old times' sake.
posted by BinGregory at 6:06 AM on November 9, 2008


It could be some former Baathist big-shot who didn't want to go home under the new administration, maybe.

That would be my guess. Someone that got out with a lot of money before the US et al. rolled in and deposed Saddam.
posted by Nelsormensch at 6:46 AM on November 9, 2008


I'd bet that it wasn't Iraqi at all. Lots of Arab countries use that flag color combo. Are you certain it was an Iraqi flag? What features distinguished it from the other Green-White-orange-red Arab flags.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:44 AM on November 9, 2008


I was certain, not only that it was the Iraqi flag, but that it was the 1991-2004 Iraqi flag, with Saddam's own handwriting. Whoever was occupying that house clearly was on a big Saddam trip.
posted by Skeptic at 7:53 AM on November 9, 2008


Can you find it on Google Earth?
posted by Spurious at 9:31 AM on November 9, 2008


A clue? - From the Milli Gazette

"The island nation has been on notice since September 11 because some of its Muslim leaders are suspected by Washington for being sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. The Mauritian ambassador to UN, Jagdish Koonju, was considered by the US as being soft on Iraq. So the Mauritius government was bamboozled to recall him home, temporarily, to pave the way for a unanimous ‘yes’ vote. "
posted by Craig at 10:00 AM on November 9, 2008


It was certainly not an embassy, valkyryn. For starters, it was in the wilderness, and it definitely lacked the grandeur.

Embassies arent grand, especially in poor countries. If they arent in falling apart office buildings then they are in cheap rent stand-alone buildings. Considering Maritius is almost 100% Sunni then it would be odd to not have a diplomatic mission from Iraq.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:35 AM on November 9, 2008


damn dirty ape I've seen embassies, and that was emphatically not an embassy, not even a dilapidated one, and it was nowhere near the capital. As for religions, according to the CIA World Factbook, Mauritius is to 48% Hindu, 23% Roman Catholic, and only 16.6% Muslim. I definitely saw more Hindu temples and Christian churches than Muslim mosques.
posted by Skeptic at 11:32 AM on November 9, 2008


I don't have any reason to doubt the theory that it's one of no doubt many ex-Baath bigwigs who got out while the getting was good. It probably isn't someone who's wanted for war crimes as Mauritius seems to have extradition treaties in good standing with the US, UK, and most probably France as well.

There really are quite a large number of people from all sorts of unsavory regimes who have retired in this fashion and are basically left alone as long as the country of origin doesn't have any reason to bother them. If they're a little richer and more respectable they gather in places like London, Paris, or Dubai.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 PM on November 9, 2008


There really are quite a large number of people from all sorts of unsavory regimes who have retired in this fashion

But would they festoon their houses with flags and post ostentatiously clad military guards around them? That seems a bit over the top.

You'd think someone who fled an inhospitable political environment would not surround themselves with such trappings.
posted by jayder at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2008


Timothy McVeigh thought of himself as a patriot. Just sayin'.

Look at it the other way. This isn't "who of all people in the world would do this?", it's "Of the people who would do this, and somebody obviously does, how many would not be an ex-Iraqi general of some kind?"
posted by dhartung at 1:53 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a really strange story. I would call the Mauritius desk at the State Department or the US Embassy in Mauritius to see if they know anything about it.
posted by footnote at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2008


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