Saudi-Yemen barrier


Saudi-Yemen barrier

The Saudi-Yemen barrier is a physical barrier constructed by Saudi Arabia along part of its 1,800 kilometer (1,100 mile) border with Yemen. It consists of a network of sandbags and pipelines, three metres (10ft) high, filled with concrete cite web
url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/yemen/Story/0,,1149722,00.html
title= Saudi security barrier stirs anger in Yemen
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last= Whitaker
first= Brian
publisher=The Guardian
date= February 17, 2004
] and fitted with electronic detection equipment. cite web
url= http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20040211/ai_n12767765
title= Saudi Arabia enrages Yemen with fence
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last=Bradley
first=John
publisher=The Independent
date=February 11, 2004
]

When construction of the 75 kilometer (45 mile) barrier began in September 2003, a fierce dispute with the Yemeni government erupted. Construction was halted in February 2004 when Saudi Arabia agreed to stop building the barrier after Yemen said the fence violated a border treaty signed in 2000. [cite web
url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3495533.stm
title= Yemen says Saudis will stop fence
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last=
first=
publisher=bbc.co.uk
date=
accessdate=
]

To date a reinforced concrete-filled pipeline currently acts as a security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen. [cite web
url= https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sa.html
title= CIA World Factbook: Saudi Arabia
last=
first=
publisher=CIA
date=
]

History and stated purpose

Since the early 1990s perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia have used explosives which originate from Yemen. Saudi Arabia claims the barrier is a necessary tool in protecting the kingdom from terrorism, preventing the smuggling of illegal weapons and to stem the flow of contraband, including Yemen’s most important unofficial export, qat, a valuable source of income for Yemen's border tribes, which is thought to earn them more than £100m a year, and which is illegal in the kingdom. After more than 65 years of sporadic conflict, Yemen and Saudi Arabia finally agreed on where the border lay culminating in the 2000 Jeddah border treaty, and began marking it with concrete posts. Saudi Arabia claimed that smugglers provide the weapons used by radical Islamists who operate inside the kingdom and are the source of the explosives used in attacks against civilian targets, such as the 2003 Riyadh compound bombings which killed 35 and injured over a hundred. There was a strong lack of trust in the Yemeni authorities' ability to arrest infiltrators before they make it into Saudi territory , however a senior Yemeni official claimed that smugglers were using "smart donkeys" which can not only find their way across unaccompanied but can also recognise the uniform of Saudi border guards and avoid them.

Opinions on the barrier

Yemeni government

Opponents claim the barrier severely restricts the local population, particularly in their ability to travel freely over the border and to access work, thereby undermining their economy. The Yemeni government initially opposed the construction which they said violated the 2000 Jeddah border treaty, which provided grazing rights for shepherds in a 13-mile buffer zone on both sides of the frontier and stipulated that no armed forces be stationed within it. The first 42 kilometer (25 mile) stretch of the barrier was erected less than 100 metres from the border line. At the time Talal Anqawi, head of Saudi Arabia's border guard, maintained that the barrier was being constructed inside Saudi territory.

Wayilah tribe

The shi'ite Wayilah, a tribe living in Yemen on land straddling the border with Saudi Arabia objected ferociously to the construction of the barrier, purporting that it violated their human rights. They claimed the route of the barrier, stretching from Jabal Hobash to Jabal Al Fara, encroached between 4-7 km beyond the neutral zone inside Yemen.cite web
url= http://yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=711&p=front&a=1
title= Close call on border
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last=
first=
publisher=Yemen Times
date=
] The tribe had previously rejected outright the location of the borderline set in the 2000 Jeddah treaty, claiming that it did not recognise the international borders that crossed their territory and ripped apart their tribal unity. The tribe said "the blood of thousands of our tribesmen has been shed in tribal wars against the Saudi Yam tribe for the sake of the border...and our tribesmen are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preserve the borders of their tribal lands." The tribe, armed with a sizable military capability, threatened violence against Saudi Arabia and when construction begun they announced that if the Saudis did not stop the construction and remove all trace of it from the area, they would "blow everything up," including the Jeddah treaty. A communiqué published by the Wayilah tribe stated:

A report in the English-language Yemen Times, stated that a prominent sheik of the Wayilah was preparing for confrontation:

Comparison to Israeli West Bank barrier

In February 2004 The Guardian reported that Yemeni opposition newspapers likened the barrier Saudi Arabia was building to the Israeli West Bank barrier, while The Independent headed an article with "Saudi Arabia, one of the most vocal critics in the Arab world of Israel's "security fence" in the West Bank, is quietly emulating the Israeli example by erecting a barrier along its porous border with Yemen". The Wayilah tribe also compared the Saudi fence to Israel's separation fence, claiming that it was being built five kilometers over the border into Yemenite territory. [cite web
url= http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Pageia&ID=IA16204
title= The Saudi Separation Fence
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last= Feldner
first= Yotam
publisher=Middle East Media Research Institute
date= February 13, 2004
]

Head of Saudi Arabia's border guard, Talal Anqawi, dismissed comparisons with Israel's West Bank barrier: "The barrier of pipes and concrete could in no way be called a separation fence. What is being constructed inside our borders with Yemen is a sort of screen ... which aims to prevent infiltration and smuggling," he said. "It does not resemble a wall in any way." [Asharq Alawsat (London), (February 9, 2004).]

The Saudi prince of Najran, Mash'al bin Abd Al-'Aziz, also denied that the barrier was a separation fence. According to him, Saudi authorities built a barrier of pipes 95 km-long north of the region of the agreed upon 20 km-wide buffer zone. [Al-Hayat (London), (February 10, 2004).]

Current status

In February 2004 after extensive Egyptian and U.S. diplomatic efforts Saudi Arabia decided to halt the construction of a barrier. Yemen agreed that the two sides would conduct joint patrols and set up security watch towers along the frontier to curb cross-border smuggling and infiltration. [cite web
url= http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/AFP/2004/02/19/379375?&pbl=82
title= Riyadh halts work on border barrier after Sanaa agrees to joint patrols
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last=
first=
publisher=AFP
date= February 19, 2004
] However, it was reported in October 2006, after plans were revealed of Saudi plans to build another fence along it’s border with Iraq that the Saudis have enjoyed "relative success by building a similar, though shorter, security barrier-fence along their southern border with Yemen to cut down on the 400,000 illegal immigrants who cross it every year looking for work in the far more prosperous Saudi state. That fence, Saudi security authorities also believe, has made their efforts to prevent the infiltration of revolutionary Islamists through Yemen far easier." [cite web
url= http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Fencing_In_Iraq_Is_Always_A_Solution_999.html
title= Fencing In Iraq Is Always A Solution
accessdate = 2007-03-23
last=Sieff
first=Martin
publisher=United Press International
date= October 4, 2006
] In February 2007 the Arab Times reported that the “Saudis have been quietly pursuing an $8.5 billion project to fence off the full length of its porous border with Yemen for some years”. [cite web
url= http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=92084&d=13&m=2&y=2007
title= Why Walls Are Going Up All Over the World?
last= Dyer
first= Gwynne
publisher=Arab News
date= February 13, 2007
accessdate = 2007-03-23
]

ee also

*Separation barrier
*Saudi Iraq barrier

References


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