Saudi Arabia to build fence on border with Iraq

Saudi Arabia to build fence on border with Iraq
Saudi Arabia has launched the construction of a high-security five-layered fence on the border with Iraq to protect the country from “infiltrators and smugglers,” according to state media.

The fence will cover 900km (560 miles) of Saudi Arabia’s northern frontier, SPA state news agency reported. Watchtowers, night vision and radars will provide surveillance along the fence.

The project was unveiled by King Abdullah late Friday. It was announced the fence’s purpose was to cut the "number of infiltrators, drug, arms and cattle smugglers to zero."

Iraq, where government forces are currently battling the radical Islamic State group, has not been mentioned in connection with the fence. But it’s exactly the border with Iraq that’s being cordoned.

Saudi Arabia already deployed 30,000 troops to its 800km border with Iraq two months ago, after the Islamic State began its rapid advancement.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia deploys 30,000 troops at border after alleged Iraqi withdrawal

Saudi Arabia has been wary of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, as the group deems monarchy illegal.

Now, among things that are supposed to help keep potential intruders away from the Saudi Arabian border will be eight command and control centers, 32 rapid response centers, three rapid intervention squads, 38 back and front gates, 78 monitoring towers, 10 monitoring and surveillance vehicles, 1,450,000 meters of fiber optics networks and 50 radars.

Control complexes have already been built in areas stretching from Hafr al-Batin in the northeast to Turaif near the Jordanian border, according to SPA.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia’s critics argue that the kingdom itself could be blamed for helping spread extremist Salafist Muslim ideology and for financing extremists.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have been tense, with the countries’ leaderships accusing each other of the current instability in the region.

The fence on the border with Iraq is not the first one for Saudi Arabia. It already has a 1,800km (1,118-mile) barrier along its border with Yemen. And the ultimate plan is to have all of the country surrounded by a fence. In July 2009, Riyadh signed a deal with European aerospace and defense contractors EADS to build a high-tech security fence on 9,000km (5,600 miles) of the country's borders.