Counter-Terrorism: Jordan Builds More Barriers

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March 20, 2016: Jordan is joining a growing number of Middle Eastern nations (like Saudi Arabia) and following the example of Israel by building high-tech security fences along their borders to keep out Islamic terrorists, illegal migrants, criminals and smugglers. With the United States covering most of the half billion dollar cost Jordan will put up this barrier along its 442 kilometers of borders with Syria and Iraq.

This project began in 2008 when Jordan spent $20 million to put up surveillance towers and a simple fence along a 50 kilometer stretch of the Syrian border. The towers had sensors that could detect movement eight kilometers away. Suddenly this usually busy section of the border was avoided by illegal visitors. That prompted Jordan to extend the tower/sensor system to the entire Syria-Iraq border. That will all be operational by the end of 2016. Adding more sensors and mobile towers will take until 2020. All this was done quickly and efficiently because the current Jordanian king (Abdullah II) spent much of his military career in the Jordanian special operations forces and was head of that organization when his father died and he became king in 1999. Abdullah was largely educated in the West and was an enthusiastic adopter of new technology. Like his father he maintained close, quiet and largely cooperative relations with Israel. The king was well aware of the success of the Israeli “security fence” technology and while he could not officially accept technical assistance from Israel directly he found that Israeli border security technology was available via the military assistance Jordan receives from the United States.

Jordan has been the most successful of the Arab countries at protecting itself from Islamic terrorism. But the civil war in Syria and the growing ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and Iranian presence in Iraq led Israel, in late 2015 Israel to begin building a security fence on its last unfenced border, the 307 kilometer Jordanian frontier. This project will take several years and cost $1.6 billion, plus millions a year to maintain. Israel and Jordan have long cooperated closely on counter-terrorism issues so the Israeli fence also assists Jordan since any Islamic terrorists inside Jordan who are seeking to get into Israel are more likely to be detected and caught.

The Israeli decision comes after Israel has nearly completed a 240 kilometer fence along the Egyptian border, mainly to keep illegal migrants (usually from Africa) out. The Israeli security fence with the West Bank will eventually be 760 kilometers long, mainly because it makes so many twists and turns to deal with unresolved territorial disputes and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. But even when it was half finished it was blocking the most easily used terrorist crossings and that caused the Palestinian terror campaign to collapse. The new fence along the Egyptian border not only stopped nearly all the illegal migrants but a lot of the other smuggling (especially drugs).

For such a small country (21,000 square kilometers) Israel has lot of borders; Egypt-208 kilometers, Jordan-307, Lebanon-81, Syria-83, West Bank-330 and Gaza Strip-59. There is also a 273 kilometer long coastline. Since Israel is surrounded by countries that host, tolerate or simply have Islamic terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel, the need for the high-tech security fences has become a matter of life or death, especially since the new fence technology works much better than the older ones that did not use a lot of sensors and other electronic devices.

 


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