Your Middle East
Last updated: 16 January, 2015

Saudi Arabia responds to IS by building controversial “Great Wall”

Saudi Arabia is building a 900km wall along its border with Iraq to protect the country from more IS attacks.

A commander and two guards were recently killed on the Iraq-Saudi border, in what is believed to be the first IS ground attack on Saudi Arabia. “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,” Iraqi security analyst Mustafa Alani told Reuters.

The aim of the wall is to protect Saudi from an IS takeover of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, which the militant group has stated is one of their key objectives. 

IS has called on “lone-wolf” attacks against Saudi security. Unsurprisingly, tight US-Saudi relations, and the fact that Saudi joined US-led air strikes against IS, are seen by the extremist Islamist group as a serious betrayal.

The construction, dubbed “The Great Wall” by media outlets, was proposed already in 2006 in the light of the Iraqi war, but began only in September 2014. The wall will stretch along 900km of the northern border with Iraq, from the northern city of Turaif to the eastern town of Hafal al-Batin. 

According to HIS Jane the Saudi Press Agency has revealed that the construction will consist of:

–       78 monitoring towers
–       8 command centres
–       10 mobile surveillance vehicles
–       32 rapid-response centres
–       3 rapid intervention squads 

Approximately 30,000 extra troops have also been sent to the area, reported The Telegraph.