The uses of walls 1

The Berlin Wall was not defensive. It was built by the Communists to keep their serf populations from escaping. As Europe celebrates its fall, a Muslim, Shiraz Maher, writes in Standpoint about barrier walls built by Islamic states, never noticed by those who vituperatively condemn the defensive barrier Israel has erected against suicide bombers and other terrorist attackers:

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. During that time scores of other barriers and walls have gone up around the world …

Of course, the one we’ve all heard about is the Israeli security fence which attracted fierce criticism after its construction in 2003. Built in response to the Palestinian intifada which claimed more than 900 lives since September 2000, the fence has dramatically halted the number of terrorist attacks inside the country.

Excuse the pun  but from the wall-to-wall coverage it received  you could be mistaken for thinking that Israel’s decision to defend itself in this way was unprecedented. Yet, not only is this wrong but, ironically, a lot of the physical barriers currently in place are located in the ‘Muslim world’.

The Saudi-Yemeni border is just one place where a physical barrier is used by a Muslim regime to defend itself against ‘smuggling’ and ‘terrorism’. … Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen has always been problematic, providing a trafficking route for weapons smuggling. Indeed, the explosives used in the 2003 Riyadh bombings which targeted compounds housing western expatriates were blamed on Yemeni smugglers. It was not the first time Saudi Arabia blamed the Yemenis for not doing enough to stop terrorism. Yemeni smugglers are also believed to have helped facilitate the bombing campaign against US military bases in the mid-1990s.

Once the Saudi government lost confidence in Yemen’s ability to curb domestic terrorism, they decided to build a physical barrier. Much of it runs through contested territory. According to the 2000 Jeddah border treaty between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a demilitarised ‘buffer zone’ should exist between both countries, protecting the rights of nomadic Bedouin tribes which live in the cross-border area. Yet, parts of the Saudi barrier stand inside the demilitarised zone, violating the 2000 agreement and infuriating Yemen. …

More recently, Saudi Arabia has also built a physical barrier along its border with Iraq to stop jihadists from the Kingdom going over to join the mujahideen. …

Beyond the Middle East, Iran’s 900 km border with Pakistan is currently being replaced by a concrete wall (10 feet high, 3 feet thick), fortified with steel rods. Ostensibly built to thwart drug traffickers and terrorists, the local Baloch people oppose its construction as it cuts across their land and separates communities living on either side of the divide. The opposition leader of Balochistan’s Provincial Assembley, Kachkol Ali, has bitterly opposed the wall saying his people were never consulted about it and that it cuts off families from one another. … A number of Baloch communities, particularly in the Kech district of south-western Balochistan, straddle the Iranian-Pakistani border area. After Iran began construction of its wall, many of those residing on its side were forced back across the border into Pakistan where they are separated from their families and land. …

There are plenty more examples of this within the Muslim world too. In the Western Sahara desert Morocco has built a massive wall, spanning more than 2700 km. Its primary aim is to guard against Sahrawi separatists who organised themselves into the Polisario Front – a political and terrorist movement – which seeks independence for the Sahrawi people. Much of the wall is lined with barbed wire and landmines, which is something it shares in common with parts of the Pakistan-Indian border (particularly in Kashmir).

Twenty years on from the collapse of the Berlin Wall physical barriers continue to be employed around the world. They may not be pretty, but they are effective. Indeed, even Israel’s biggest critics would have to concede that suicide bombings have fallen away sharply ever since the construction of the security fence in parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet, Islamists and parts of the political left obsess only about Israel but do not extend similar condemnation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, or Pakistan. …

Posted under Commentary, Defense, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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  • SADR

    Polisario Front ain't a terrorist group, neither the ONU, USA, UE, etc… consider them as that. It's a nacional liberation movement, because it's a case of decolonization aborted by Morocco with the backing of USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc…
    Also, they respect a cease-fire from 1991, despite the violations of human rights on the occupied part of the territory.
    Best wishes.