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Saudi Border Security Program
Saudi Border Guard Development Program

The Saudi Border Guard Development Program is generally dubbed MIKSA for the Ministry of Interior Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Bilateral negotiations with France for this project began in the early 1990s, when a deal with Thales' predecessor Thomson-CSF was first envisaged. The MIKSA proposal was the result of discussions between Saudi interior minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdelaziz and his French counterpart Charles Pasqua. They signed a protocol agreement in 1994, but the project remained stalled for years. As of 2006 Thales planned the installation of 225 radars, covering the entire 5,000 km of coastline and land border, along with 400 frontier posts, barracks for security forces, a score of helicopters, reconnaissance planes, and a control center in Riyadh.

The risk of violence insourcing back to Saudi Arabia from Iraq prompted construction a fence along the kingdom’s northern border. That concept became a serious initiative in 2006, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009. In October 2006 Saudi Arabia's Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdel Aziz confirmed plans for a 560-mile security fence along the kingdom's border with Iraq. This came amid mounting concern about the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. Construction of the fence was scheduled to begin in 2007 and was anticipated to take five or six years to complete. The kingdom originally invited bids for the $500 million project in April 2006. The contract is part of the larger $12 billion MIKSA project to improve Saudi border security throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Plans for the Iraqi frontier included building fences on either side of a 100-meter "no-man's land" containing concertina wire obstacles, ultraviolet sensors and night vision cameras with facial recognition technologies, and buried motion detectors. Command posts, helipads and observation towers linked with access roads were to be spaced along the frontier. The entire security strip would retain existing sand berms at the Iraqi border. The fence project would include 135 electronically controlled gates, although it was unclear if the barrier would seal the entire border or just major crossing points.

The original bids were submitted in October 2007, with the expectation that a contract would be awarded by the end of the year. However, the decision was delayed by the proposal to split the contract because of the rising cost of raw materials, which has increased the level of risk for bidders. The delay was also due to Riyadh seeking to standardize the systems it uses across a wider proposed network. The Saudi government had already invested upwards of $1.8 billion to improve security on the Iraqi border, according to the Saudi National Security Assessment Project. This included a 20-foot-high berm and a regularly patrolled six-mile wide security zone along 500 miles of the border.

With the backing of chancellor Angela Markel, the German side of EADS, working in partnership with RTCC [Al Rashid Trading & Contracting Co, the Saudi partner of EADS], won the first USD 907 million part of the contract which involved building a 900 km fence along the border with Iraq. Other firms that bid for the northern border fence contract include the local Al Arab Contracting Company and the local Al Mabani with the US' Raytheon. El-Seif formed a consortium with the US' DRS technologies for its bid.

The joint venture of Al Rashid Trading & Contracting Company and the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Company won the SAR 3.4 billion contract to build a 900 kilometers long security fence along Saudi Arabia's northern border with Iraq. The JV received a letter of intent in mid June 2008 from the interior ministry. The contract covers two packages of work that the ministry had considered offering as 2 separate contracts. It had asked firms to bid for the separate packages. The first package covers the 900 kilometers, double lined fence and includes surveillance equipment, watch towers and electronic gates. Package two covers the civil works, including command centers, training centers and accommodation for border guards.

Ending more than a decade of exclusive bilateral negotiation between Paris and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia invited Raytheon, BAE Systems, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Finmeccanica and other major defence groups to bid alongside Thales for the lucrative MIKSA frontier security contract. The decision to open the competition for international competition reflected the desire of King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz to reinforce the transparency of public procurement, and the need to convince the USA that he was not seeking to cut traditional defence links with the USA.

Saudi Arabia signed a contract in 2009 to build a security fence to cover all of its borders with Iraq, totaling 9000 kilometers in length. Saudi Arabia’s decision on 30 June 2009 to contract the French-German group EADS N.V. to build a surveillance system for its 9,000 km of borders enabled Paris to save face. After being under contract for the northern border security, which is then under execution, EADS Defence & Security was awarded (as prime contractor) the border security program covering the full borders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This contract was to be executed over 5 years and is the largest contract ever competed worldwide as a full solution. The project has been strongly competed through an international competition for several years.

The Saudi border guard will benefit from a leading edge solution, providing visibility and operational awareness for about 9000 km of borderline(mountains, deserts and sea borders). The solution will ensure border coverage is visible and managed at the sector level, while simultaneously providing situational awareness at the regional and national level. EADS Defence & Security will reinforce its global position as world leader of the Security market, including border surveillance, and will capitalize on all the expertise from its European roots. EADS Defence & Security has been strongly supported by the Al Rashid group for construction works.

'We are very pleased to have earned the trust and the confidence of the KSAgovernment. We are committed to dedicate all our capacities and capabilitiesto deliver this program on time and in the quality our customer expects. Thatincludes also long-term investments in the country' declares Stefan Zoller, CEO of EADS Defence & Security.

FLIR Systems received a $2.4 million order to supply sensor systems for the Saudi Border Guard Development Program. The company, based in Portland, Oregon, has been assigned by prime contractor EADS to deliver and install its HRC Multi-Sensor Systems to protect 9,000 kilometers of border fence.

Challenge in securing the borders lies in the difficult terrain - while the northern border comprises mostly flat, sandy deserts and gravel plains, the terrain in the southwest is mountainous. The Saudi-Yemeni border, at around 1,500 km in length, has been used as a gateway for smuggling and for people to illegally enter Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia launched an assault on Yemen's Shi'ite Muslim rebels -- known as the Houthis -- in early November 2009 after they staged a cross-border incursion that killed two Saudi border guards. Saudi troops pushed back the rebels, referred to as "infiltrators" by state television, and killed an unspecified number of the insurgents. At least 133 Saudi soldiers were killed over three months.

By October 2010 Saudi Arabia had established 119km of security barriers along Yemeni border to prevent smuggling and infiltration from Yemen. Deputy commander of the Saudi border guards on the Saudi-Yemeni border Abdul-Aziz al-Sabhi said the security barrier was erected in stages, with early results revealing that the rates of smuggling and infiltration have been significantly reduced. Construction of the border barrier began in 2003 but stopped in 2004 following complaints by Yemen, which said it violated an early border treaty. Some tribes straddle the border, and the Yemeni government protested, saying the tribes needed free access for grazing. The security barrier is a network of sandbags and pipelines 3 meters high and filled with concrete. It is monitored by electronic surveillance equipment.

Yemen's traditional business elite come from the southern, non-tribal areas of what was once North Yemen. But many of the top businessmen from Hadramawt actually live across the border in SaudiArabia, where the climate for their businesses is friendlier. The northern tribes have historically been unable togenerate an indigenous bourgeoisie, and their scare business activity was limited to illicit smugglingenterprises (including human trafficking across the Saudi border, a practice that continues today). Theeffective tribal capture of the Yemeni state has allowed tribal elements to translate their connections with power into money.

Security gaps at borders are clearly relevant for nationalstability and impact the broader international effort to combat extremist transnational movements. Initially the Saudi-Yemen border barrier was focused on stopping vehicles, but after the clashes in 2009 the focus shifted to fences to stop infiltrators coming across on foot. Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch has boasted of its ability to infiltrate the border and outwit Saudi Arabia’s network of informants in the area.

In 2013 Saudi Arabia resumed the project abandoned in 2004 to build a three-meter (10-foot) fence the length of its border with Yemen. Reports that the project was back on had already drawn condemnation from human rights activists who accused Saudi Arabia of dealing a new blow to its impoverished neighbour after deporting thousands of Yemeni workers under new labour regulations in recent weeks. The fence along the 1,800-kilometer (1,125-mile) border would consist of a network of sandbags and piping, fitted with electronic detection systems. By 2013 Saudi Arabia was forecast to spend over $20 billion by 2018 on border fence security systems. Bordered by Yemen and Iraq, Saudi Arabia would use border perimeter security, including physical fences, electronic fences, surveillance and listening equipment as well as closed circuit camera (C3) systems

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Page last modified: 20-05-2017 15:43:53 ZULU