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Yes, Walls Are Needed, and They’re Already Everywhere

One may support or oppose the Trump administration’s grand design in terms of home security: the building, or the “updating,” of a 3200-kilometer barrier between the United States and Mexico. One cannot deny, however, that such structures -- hermetic and heavily monitored separations, instead of merely classic borders -- are quite common today.

While the Iron Curtain and Bamboo Curtain separating the USSR and Red China from the rest of the world were partially dismantled, some other 20th century barriers are still extant. And new ones are being erected all over the world at steady pace.

Le Point, a French right-of-center weekly, has published a comprehensive map in this respect. According to it, and other documents, the oldest existing barriers are the outcome of wars of aggression:

                                                                    Le Pointe's border barrier infographic.

The “demilitarized zone” (DMZ) between North and South Korea -- in fact, one of the most militarized fences in the world -- was created in 1953 as part of the armistice agreement that ended a three-year war initiated by the Communist North Korean regime. The 180-kilometer long Attila that separates the Muslim-Turkish populated Northern Cyprus from the Christian-Greek populated southern Republic of Cyprus was unilaterally set up by Turkey after it invaded the Mediterranean island in 1975. The Sand Wall, a 2720-kilometer barrier put in place between 1980 and 1987 and manned by 100,000 Moroccan soldiers, marked Morocco’s 1975 unilateral annexation of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.

Likewise, the 120-kilometer fence on the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese borders and the 51-kilometer fence on the Israeli-Gazan line were set up in the wake of repeated aggressions by Arab states or terrorist organizations against the Jewish State from 1948 to 2014. The almost 3000-kilometer fence on the Indian-Pakistani border is the result of the many wars and skirmishes involving the two South Asian nations since 1947:

Indian Border Security Force vehicles stand near fencing at the India Pakistan border south of Jammu, India. June 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

However, the more recent barriers were built or are being built within a very different context. Their main purpose is to prevent large-scale terrorist infiltrations or to monitor mass migrations.

The largest of them are to be found in the Islamic world. This should not come as a surprise, since many Islamic countries are hotbeds of competing jihadist movements or migratory pools or both.

There is a 3300-kilometer wall between secular but Hindu-dominated India and Muslim Bangladesh. Some 2700 kilometers of walls surround Uzbekistan, 1400 kilometers lie on Saudi Arabia’s borders, 1200 kilometers on Iran’s Eastern borders, and 700 kilometers on Oman’s borders. Jordan is completing a 500-kilometer fence on its Syrian and Iraqi borders; Tunisia a 200-kilometer fence along its Libyan border.