Turkey builds new border walls for Armenia and Iran
The AKP-run Turkish state is building two new border walls as “precaution” for the guerrilla on the Iran and Armenia borders.
The Turkish state is building an “Integrated Border Security System” on the Iran and Armenia borders. The system is comprised of prefabricated walls, watch towers on the wall, wire mesh fences and night lighting units.
The Turkish National Defense Ministry has completed the construction of a 692 km wall on the 911 km border between Northern Kurdistan/Turkey and Western Kurdistan/Rojava/Syria. Turkish President Erdoğan announced on June 2 that they will close off all 911 kilometers with a wall.
THAT BORDER WASN’T ENOUGH
Turkish National Defense Ministry had been engaged in efforts to build walls on the Iran and Armenia borders against the Kurdistan guerrilla as well. The issue first appeared in the press as lobby gossip in January. There was talk that a wall would be built in Ardahan, Kars and Iğdır as part of the border security arrangements between Iran and Armenia and Turkey.
EXCUSE FOR TENDÜREK DEFEAT
Alevi-turned-AKP mouthpiece Abdülkadir Selvi wrote in his column in Hürriyet on May 8, relaying the high-ranking official he met with: “PKK has camps Makü, Dambat, Navur, Kotr, Keneresh and Şehidan on the Iran-Turkey border. These camps host 800 to 1000 PKK terrorists. These people go into Turkey and carry out the actions and leave. When we conduct antiterror operations in the Ağrı-Tendürek region, they cross over to these camps. As a precaution, we are closing off 70 km of the Ağrı-Iğdır border with a wall, and the rest with watchtowers and iron chain fences. We are also illuminating the whole area.”
WRITTEN INQUIRY ANSWERED
CHP MP Mahmut Tanal submitted a written inquiry on the minesweeping on the Iran-Armenia border, and the inquiry was answered by Turkish National Defense Minister Fikri Işık, who confirmed that a wall will be built on the border after minesweeping efforts are completed.
Minister Işık mentioned the Ottawa Convention in his answer. The Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction was petitioned in Ottawa, Canada on December 4, 1997 and went into effect on March 1, 1999. Turkey became a party to the convention in 2003, and the treaty went into effect for Turkey on March 1, 2004. Turkey is to clear all mines they laid by March 1, 2022. The European Union Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) scheduled the project and the EU approved it, and it was instated. The EU offers financial support for the minesweeping efforts, whose first stage is carried out by South African company MECHEM, and quality and control activities are carried out by British company RPS. According to the agreement between Turkey and these countries, the first stage aims to clear 192.058 mines in a 11 million square meter area between Kars-Digor and Van-Saray.
The minesweeping efforts are reported to have started in the Iğdır/Aralık region and by November 29, 2016, 9 thousand mines have been cleared in a 122.000 square meter area.
Minister Işık announced that a wall will be built in the areas cleared of mines and said: “We will build an Integrated Border Security System that consists of prefabricated walls, watch towers on the wall, wire mesh fences and night lighting units.”
TOKİ PRESIDENT CAN’T STOP PRAISING IT
The Prime Ministry Public Housing Authority has built a 692 km wall on the Rojava border up to date, and has completed the bidding process for a 144 km portion for the Iranian border. TOKİ President Mehmet Ergün Turan announced that they will build a border wall of 144 km in Iğdır and Ağrı provinces. Turan said a road of the same length will be built next to the wall and added: “We have completed the bidding process for the wall that will be built in five stages. Now, we are in the worksite mobilization and location handover stage. The construction will be done in phases, and we are expecting to complete the first phase in October.”
Turan said there will be 15 gates along the wall and added: “There will be bulletproof glass on these gates. We are using high security materials for the gates, and we are building the gates as mobile units. We are using high strength high tolerance concrete while manufacturing the giant blocks. As TOKİ, we are not just casting wall molds and joining them, we are also building the security road behind the wall for patrols. The construction is done completely domestically.”
SITUATON ON THE ROJAVA BORDER
TOKİ President Turan also spoke on the border on the Rojava/Syria wall. The wall starts from Hatay and continues for 688.240 meters. Turan said they bid the construction of roads, gates and watch towers for 692.000 meters and gave the following information: “These efforts were launched in September 2016 and a total of 30 bids were held for a total of 770 million Liras. As there are minesweeping efforts also in place, we are working under harsh and dangerous conditions in regard to security. We have completed the temporary acceptance of a 48.000 meter area on the Urfa border, and have started the process for the 41.000 meter area on the Hatay border. Efforts continue in other parts as well.”
ALSO BUILDING THE SECURITY ROAD
In the completed part of the 7 tonne mobile blocks along the border line, 2 meters wide and 3 meters tall, razorwire has also been installed. Turan stressed that the border wall is “portable”, and continued: “The wall we are manufacturing is 3 meters tall. With one meter of razorwire on top, it stands a total of 4 meters tall. The wall is 30 cm thick. We are building the wall so that it can be moved elsewhere. We are using high strength high tolerance concrete. As TOKİ, we are not just casting wall molds and joining them, we are also building the security road behind the wall for patrols.”
Turan stated that they are also building the road and the watchtowers and said: “With the completion of the wall, our border will be more secure.”
WHY HAD THEY LAID MINES?
Turkey started to lay down mines on a 812 kilometer border line to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Georgia in 1952 when the country joined NATO. New mines were laid between 1993 and 1997 along the border in the Serhat and Botan regions against the Kurdistan Freedom Movement. With the legal amendments in June 2009, it was announced that 645.000 land mines were to be cleared from the Syrian border first, with a sweep of at least 20 cm deep, utilizing a 3.000 people expert unit and 500 local residents.
A sweep from Cizre to Iğdır on the Iraqi and Iranian border was planned after the Syria line, but the border mine sweeping project was first slowed down on March 2011 with the war in Syria, and then completely and officially halted on June 2013.