The wall is designed to keep out militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) who have made huge gains in neighboring Iraq.
Last week a militant raiding party attacked a border post located along the 600-mile “Great Wall,” which is part of Saudi attempts to prevent the chaos afflicting its northern neighbor from spreading into its lands.
Saudi Arabia: An impressive barrier
The defensive wall is a combined fence and ditch, complete with high-tech defense mechanisms including Airbus SPEXER 2000 radars, specially equipped surveillance vehicles and underground movement sensors which trigger silent alarms. Watch towers look over the five layers of fencing, using day/night cameras to maintain their constant vigil.
30,000 extra troops have also been sent to the area.
The wall borders an area of Iraq now under the control of Isil, a group which considers the capture of Saudi Arabia of paramount importance due to the presence of the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina within the country.
Plans for the wall have been discussed since 2006, when the Iraqi civil war was at its fiercest. However construction only started in September 2014, following Isil’s rapid gains in western and northern Iraq. These gains gave the group a long land border with Saudi Arabia.
Westerners have traditionally found it difficult to access the country, but citizens of fellow Muslim nations used to have few problems. This is especially true during Haj season, which sees Muslim pilgrims from around the globe flocking to Mecca and Medina in droves. However new rules have seen even pilgrims subject to stricter security checks.
Another fence is also being built along parts of the southern border with Yemen, which stretches for 1,000 miles. These fences are designed to prevent incidents such as the attack on the border post last week, in which 3 border guards were killed. General Oudah al-Belawi, commander of border operations in Saudi Arabia’s northern zone, was among those killed. The four attackers also died.
With Isil aiming to take over Saudi Arabia it would not be surprising if we saw attacks of this kind occurring more regularly. The Saudis must be hoping that the wall is strong enough to repel the increasingly strong forces currently taking over Iraq.