2006 October 01 Sunday
Saudi Arabia To Build Fence To Keep Out Refugees From Iraq

The Saudis think Iraq is falling apart and that Iraqi Shia Arabs pose a security risk to Saudi Arabia.

Security in Iraq has collapsed so dramatically that Saudi Arabia has ordered the construction of a 550-mile high-tech fence to seal off its troubled northern neighbour.

The huge project to build the barrier, which will be equipped with ultraviolet night-vision cameras, buried sensor cables and thousands of miles of barbed wire, will snake across the vast and remote desert frontier between the countries.

The diagram associated with the article shows a pair of fences running in parallel 100 yards apart. It also includes barbed wire at the top of each fence and a shorter pyramid fence with a large amount of barbed wire running inside between the two higher fences. Plus, it has an access road and a sand berm.

Nawaf Obaid, the director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, says the Saudis see Iraq as out of control.

"But the feeling in Saudi is that Iraq is way out of control with no possibility of stability. The urgency now is to get that border sealed: physically sealed."

Most of Saudi Arabia's oil lies in a province which has a Shia majority. Those Shias are Saudi Arabia's biggest potential security threat.

Saudi officials are worried about so-called "blowback", in which Saudi insurgents in Iraq bring jihad back to the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah. But they are mostly concerned that an Iraqi civil war will send a wave of refugees south, unsettling the kingdom's Shia minority in its oil-producing east.

The Saudis expect to be done by early summer 2008.

Analysts said that even taking into account delays and disputes that usually accompany such valuable military contracts, the fence was on course to be finished by the early summer of 2008. The total cost is expected to reach at least 300 million,

300 million pounds works out to 561 million US dollars. So the Saudis expect to spend at least $1 million per mile. But they could easily end up spending two or three times that amount.

Other articles put the border length at 560 miles or 900 kilometers. So the Saudis might be using a rough estimate of $1 million USD per mile. They haven't gone through a bidding process and so do not know what the bids will come out to. Even at $50 per barrel the cost represents less than 2 days of Saudi oil revenues.

The fence won't do much to stop the outflow of Jihadists from Saudi Arabia to Iraq because most of those go through Syria.

The fence would do little to stop the flow of militants into Iraq because most are believed to cross from Syria, Jordan and Iran. U.S. and Iraqi officials have long complained about Saudi extremists joining insurgent groups in Iraq, but say they mostly go through Syria.

Suggestion for the Saudis: Pay to construct a barrier along the Jordan-Iraq border to provide since that border could get used by Iraqis to skirt around your fence.

The UAE is also constructing a fence - but to keep out illegal aliens.

The United Arab Emirates is building a similar wall along its border with Oman -- mainly to keep out illegal migrants.

Good fences make good neighbors.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 October 01 07:49 AM  Immigration Border Barrier

Doug said at October 2, 2006 6:55 PM:


But there might be something else going on here. How do Saudis get to Iraq. Most do it through Syria. It might be that Saudi jihadists find it easier to travel through Sunni Syria & western Iraq than to try and travel through Shiite southern Iraq.

The point is that the Saudi monarchy might like for it's jihad-minded young men to go to Iraq, maybe get killed or disillusioned (e.g. jihadists killing many civilians). If the jihadists want to return to Saudi Arabia, how do they do this? If they fly in from Syria the Saudi authorities would certainly be aware of this and would now know who their jihadist-minded young men are. If they try to come south through Syria, if they encounter a fence and have to go through a checkpoint, the Saudi authorities again, find out who their own jihadist-minded young men are.

Better to let the jihadists reveal themselves rather than just wonder who they are.

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