Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The number of infiltrators crossing the borders between Saudi Arabia and Iraq has declined by 30 to 40 percent compared with the past few years, according to Staff General Talal Anqawi, Director General of the Saudi Border Guard.
This news comes after the Saudi Interior Ministry recently announced that it intends to build a security barrier along its border with Iraq.
Anqawi told Asharq Al-Awsat this year’s statistics show that there has been a decrease in the number of border infiltrators and that this decrease may be attributed to the regulation of the borders between the two countries, the secure closing of the border area, and the distribution of heat seeking surveillance cameras. The Director General of the Saudi Border Guard explained that his organization’s achievements in this matter were the result of efforts made at the meetings of interior ministers from nations neighboring Iraq as well as Iraq’s understanding for Saudi Arabia’s extensive efforts in regulating the borders between the two nations. General Anqawi expects the bilateral cooperation between his country and Iraq to make positive progress in the future in light of the agreements and the protocol signed at the meeting of the interior ministers from nations neighboring Iraq held recently in Jeddah. Anqawi drew a connection between the weak Iraqi security presence along the borders of the two countries to internal security problems as well as to the importance of Iraqi security forces maintaining internal security, anticipating a strengthening of the presence of the Iraqi security system in the border area in the future. He said that “according to my information, they have the intention to construct some border centers at present.”
Prince Ahmad Bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of the Interior, said in previous statements that the Kingdom is making efforts to maintain its borders with Iraq, especially in regards to security disturbances that create unrest in the region. He believes that the security barrier that his country will construct along the Saudi-Iraqi border will provide good protection. The Saudi-Iraqi borders have witnessed a number of infiltrations over the past few years during which Saudi authorities were able to arrest 682 Iraqi infiltrators and smugglers in the first half of 2005 as well as stopping 63 people and preventing them from infiltrating the country’s northern border. Saudi expenses for securing its borders with Iraq rose to 4 billion riyals by August, 2005 as opposed to 1.8 billion riyals at the end of 2004. Saudi security forces were able to uncover 14.8 million rounds of ammunition, 16,300 weapons and 2.991 rotl (one rotl is equivalent to 462g in Saudi Arabia) of explosives. The measures taken unilaterally by Saudi Arabia resulted in the discovery of extensive networks working to manufacture and smuggle explosives to terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries. In March, 2004, Saudi Arabia held a comprehensive training program for its officers participating in border observation operations and border centers for which the forces and equipment of the border guard as well as the national guard and the army covered 9 regions (35 administrative areas), including 275 border centers. The Saudi Interior Ministry used the most modern means of observing border movement, including aircraft especially provided by the Royal Saudi Air Force, advanced radar, and night vision equipment supplied by the Ministry of Defense. The Saudi Interior Ministry was assisted in regulating its borders using modern heat-detection technology systems and border observation cameras whose stationary units numbered 34 by December, 2004 while the number of mobile units that have been installed in the region along the border with Iraq exceed 37.