The state of affairs all over the world are no in good shape especially in the Middle East Asian countries. The state establishments are looking for means to reinforce the security measures to protect their interests. Saudi Arabia is suddenly very alarmed at the vulnerability of their long borders with Iraq and Yemen. For generations the main border problem was smugglers. Authorities recalls that since the 1990s the number of smuggling cases have been increasing. Smugglers have started trafficking hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin to Saudi Arabia.
Fiber optic cables have been laid to connect border posts and security check points. Cameras and other security devices are being connected to the fiber optic network along the borders to effectively monitor activities in those check posts. Fiber optic cables can send signals back to and from the control points quickly and without much loss of information. The images will be clear and the real time flawless monitoring is possible with optical fiber networks. Fiber optic cables are widely used in defense and military applications. Another field of application of fiber optic cables apart from telecommunications is in security and medical fields.
Recent concern regarding the terrorists is very genuine to the Kingdom. Authorities have noticed that there is growing number of Islamic terrorists entering the kingdom that would eventually put the state in chaotic situation. By late 2014 Saudi Arabia had reached the point where it had told its border guards to shoot-on-sight and shoot-to-kill if anyone caught illegally crossing and refusing to stop. This had created friction with some of the Saudi tribes living near the border, where tribal members have been smuggling for generations and tribal leadership is blind about it. Saudi Arabia realize that terrorists will exploit these tribal feelings For Saudi Arabia, Islamic terrorism is more dangerous than tribal unrest.
The border fences were there along the Iraq and Yemen frontiers, but they were not effective to prevent illegal trafficking and entry of terrorists. So it was decided to revive through a 2006 plan for a security barrier along the Iraqi border. The estimated cost was more than US$13 million per kilometer. Total cost was nearly $14 billion for a total of 900 kilometer along Iraq border. Work was scheduled to begin in 2007. The construction work of the fence was planned to finish in 2009. Authorities could not either start or finish the work as planned. The fence was intended to keep out Sunni extremists who strive to overthrow the monarchy and establish a Sunni Islamic republic. Also there is threat from Shia extremists who wanted to establish a Shia Islamic republic.
The fence was also planned to reduce smuggling, which has been in alarming state along this border since the kingdom was established in the 1920s. Saudi Arabia is a growing population, with many young people unproductive burdening the state to depend on migrant workers for almost all areas of work. Building of this fence as per design itself require a lot more foreign experts and imported technology. So the security people were sent back to the drawing board, and came up with a cheaper solution, that would put more unskilled young Saudis to work.
The new design costs around one billion US dollars. The design consists of two barbed wire fences, many radars, heat sensing devices and other sensors. This would take approximately one year for construction providing jobs directly and indirectly for many people when building 1,800 kilometers of fence and installing the electronic devices. When completed, the cheap fence lacked many of the sensors (or used ones that were not reliable) and was easy to cut through. When these flaws became obvious enough to a lot of people there were calls for a return to the original design and in 2014 it was agreed to “upgrade” the border fence to standards first proposed in 2006. The original design used lots of sensors, supported by 1,450 kilometers of fiber optic cables.
The high-speed fiber optic lines allowed for real time monitoring of fifty radars (able to detect vehicles, pack animals and individual people) along with 78 monitoring towers equipped with optical day and night sensors (digital cameras) with zoom. The monitoring was done from eight command centers. From these centers sensor operators could quickly determine if someone was attempting to breach the border barrier and where. They could then order armed men to the trouble spot from 32 rapid response centers. There are ten vehicles equipped with surveillance equipment that can be sent to areas where trouble is expected, to make sure the trouble, if it shows up, is spotted and identified sooner.
In Saudi Arabia legal traffic goes through 38 crossings, which are heavily guarded and monitored. The foreign consultants involved in design of the barrier warned the Kingdom there would be chances of manipulation and bribing along the security borders even after establishing highly secure fences along the borders to prevent illegal trafficking and entry of extremists from neighboring countries.Interestingly , the newly built system used to run the monitoring and control has safeguards and monitoring routines built in to detect and quickly report possible bribery activity. Similar barrier is being built along the Yemen border and all 5,000 kilometers of land borders would be upgraded to higher border security.