10/02/2006versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Riyadh government announces the construction of a barrier along the Iraqi border
“Its main objective is to try and make the border with Iraq safer, since Iraq is no longer able to control its borders, since the invasion on the part of the Coalition”. With these words Nawaf Obaid, counsellor for national security in Saudi Arabia, presented the project for the defensive barrier that the Saudi government wants to build on the border with Iraq.

un vecchio cartello di confine iracheno Mutual accusations. During a meeting with the press which took place last Wednesday, Obaid also foresaw that “the work will take 5 or 6 years to complete and above all it will take more or less 12 billion dollars to cover the cost of this infrastructure, which, in the end will be 900 kilometres long and will be fitted with electronic sensors to intercept any attempted intrusion”.
A new wall,in fact, following the model of the one Israel is building, encroaching on the Occupied Territories in Palestine, or of the one that the United States are trying to strenghthen  on the border with Mexico. The Saudi government however has spent up to 2 billion dollars in the last three years to try and close that border, which is too permeable, according to Saudi intelligence, and allows subversive elements, as Obaid defines them, to enter Saudi Arabia and carry out attacks.
This is more or less the same charge that the United States bring against Saudi Arabia and Siria: that they act as zone behind the line for the guerrillas who fight against the Coalition forces. Obaid underlined how this initiative wants to clear the field of all misunderstandings.
“It is we who suffer from the instability caused by the invasion of Iraq, not the other way round. And the guerrilla fighters do not find refuge in Saudi Arabia, on the contrary they come here to destabilize the Country”. The Saudi official also specified that armouring the border is also aimed at stamping out smuggling, illegal immigration and traffic in weapons, all of which have become unmanageable, again since the invasion in 2003.

mappa del confine tra arabia saudita e iraq Wall against wall. The decision of the Riad government seems to be an answer to the statements of the US command which had calculated, last April, that one out of five foreign  guerrilla fighters arrested in Iraq was of Saudi nationality. From September 2005 to April 2006 US patrols in Iraq arrested 23 Saudi Arabians: yet another signal of the end of the honeymoon between Washington and Riad, after the 11th September 2001. 15 of the 19 suicide attackers who sent the planes crashing against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were Saudi Arabians, Bin Laden himself is Saudi Arabian. After 50 years marked by a cast-iron alliance, relations between the Usa and Saudi Arabia have frozen. Particularly since, in March 2003, the USA decided to invade Iraq, and Saudi Arabia firmly opposed the attack. Riad now tries, and has for some time past, to show a very firm committment against international terrorism, at the same time keeping the tone of the controversy against the USA high to try and quash an internal opposition which is getting more and more aggressive, and which accuses the ruling house of having been, and of still being, a vassal of the United States. What is more, since the fall of Saddam, Iraq is in practice governed by Shiites, who in Saudi Arabia are a harrassed minority. Riad fears a domino effect at home, after the season of attacks which caused the death of about 100 people in two years, and a raising of shields on the part of the Saudi Shiites. The wall should therefore help to solve, at least in part, all these problems, but historical precedents are not encouraging.

 Christian Elia
Topic: War, Walls
Area: Saudi Arabia