Saudi Arabia is building a sophisticated fence along its northern border to secure the desert kingdom “against infiltrators and smugglers,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The first stage of the border security program was announced by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Friday. The first phase will stretch for 900 kilometers (560 miles) on the country’s northern frontier.
The project includes five layers of fencing, reinforced by watch towers, night-vision cameras and radar. Control complexes have been built in areas stretching from Hafr Al Batin in the northeast to Turaif near the Jordanian border, SPA said.
The project will include eight command and control center, 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.
The kingdom expects the fence to cut the "number of infiltrators, drug, arms and cattle smugglers to zero," SPA said.
In July 2009, Riyadh signed a deal with European aerospace and defense contractor EADS to build a high-tech security fence on 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) of the country's borders.
The original aim was to secure the Saudi border with Iraq with fencing and high-tech monitoring. However, due to increased concerns over infiltration by anti-government militants and Al-Qaida, the Saudi interior ministry expanded the scope of the program to fence and electronically monitor all the country's borders.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq are deeply strained. Riyadh has accused outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki of creating the conditions for the extremist insurgency in his country by marginalizing its minority sect Arabs, particularly the Sunnis.
Maliki in turn has accused the oil-rich kingdom of supporting "terrorism."