SAUDI ARABIA TO WALL OFF IRAQ. As Juan Cole observes, it's hardly a sign of confidence in the Bush administration that Saudi Arabia is planning to build a giant fence in the hopes of lessening the expected blowback of jihadis fresh from the World's Most Expensive School for Terrorists, a.k.a Iraq. The high-tech, 900-km long fence will take five-six years to complete, according to Nawaf Obaid, head of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Obaid authored a report for CSIS in April that analyzed the implications of Bush's Iraq fiasco for Saudi national security.As you can imagine, the report makes for very depressing reading. Foreshadowing the recent debate over the NIE (pdf), Obaid recommended that Saudi Arabia be more effective in communicating its assessment of the real situation in Iraq to American policymakers, because:
... statements by US officials indicate that the Bush administration does not have a firm grasp of the dynamics or complexities of the situation. This is primarily evident in the fact that while the possibility of civil war is increasing, administration officials continually claim that the situation is �improving.�
Among other recommendations, the report called for Saudi Arabia to form a Border Security Committee to handle the blowback, particularly on the Iraqi side of the border. The Saudis had already spent $1.8 billion on border security at the time of the report, and plan to spend another $12 billion on this new
Maginot Line fence.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have appropriated $20 million in the 2007 budget for a victory celebration for U.S. forces coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.