Saudi Arabia is embarking on a large scale project to build a 600 mile wall on their border with Iraq, to shield the country from ISIS and other chaos in Iraq and Syria. ISIS, which controls much of Iraq, considers the capture of Saudi Arabia, with the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, to be an ultimate prize. The proposal for the wall dates back to the Iraqi civil war in 2006, but work began last September in the wake of ISIS expansion into Iraq’s northern and western regions. The border zone already employs five layers of fencing with watchtowers, as well as night-vision and radar cameras.
Riyadh has also sent 30,000 troops to the border region to bolster security.
Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has been relatively open to travelers from the its Muslim neighbors, who have traveled to make the Haj pilgrimage for centuries, to Mecca and Medina. Now, with chaos still on the rise in the region, and ISIS still intermittently ascendant, the need for border security is increasing. Since 2003, Saudi Arabia is also building a wall along portions of its thousand mile long southern border with Yemen.
After a general and two guards were killed along the border last month, representing the first ISIS ground assault on Saudi Arabia’s border, a renewed focus was placed back on construction of the border wall.
“It is the first attack by Islamic State itself against Saudi Arabia and is a clear message after Saudi Arabia entered the international coalition against it,” said Mustafa Alani, who is an Iraqi security analyst with ties to Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry.
The border “wall” will include five layers of chainlink fence with razor wire, underground movement sensors which trigger silent alarms, a network of fiber optic cable connecting to the Ministry of Interior, response stations with heli-pads, and 240 rapid response vehicles, in addition to surveillance vehicles. The border installation will boast detection capabilities able to detect helicopters at up to 36 kilometers away, light vehicles at 22 kilometers, and pedestrians at 18 kilometers.
The border installation will stretch from Turaif, near the border with Jordan, east to Hafar al-Batin, near the Kuwaiti border.