Attack at Saudi-Iraq Border Kills Three Saudi Guards

Reuters reports the location of the attack as near the Suweif border station, about 40 km from Arar, Saudi Arabia and 80 km from al-Nukhayb, Iraq (marked by red pin).

Reuters reports the location of the attack as near the Suweif border station, about 40 km from Arar, Saudi Arabia and 80 km from al-Nukhayb, Iraq (marked by red pin), putting the attack roughly where the road connecting them crosses the border.

I’ve long followed events along the porous Pakistan-Iran border area, as there are often events taking place there that have very different descriptions on opposite sides of the border. As recently as December 28, three Iranian IRGC members were killed in the area. This is a departure from the usual pattern, where border guards instead of IRGC are the usual targets. Iran retaliated by firing mortars over the border into Pakistan, who claimed as many as 7 injuries from the attack. Iran is also reporting today that they have arrested a team of “terrorists” south of where the December event took place.

By contrast, even though it as remote as the Iran-Pakistan border, the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border is more heavily fortified and patrolled on the Saudi side. That makes today’s report of three Saudi guards being killed in an attack near a border crossing with Iraq stand out:

Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq, defended by earth barriers and fences and monitored by camera and radar, has been attacked in the past by mortar bombs fired from a distance, but more targeted strikes are rare.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault, which hit a remote desert area next to Iraq’s Anbar province where both the Islamic State militant group and Shi’ite Muslim militias close to Riyadh’s foe Iran operate.


Monday’s attackers, described by the ministry only as “terrorist elements”, shot at a border patrol near Arar and when security officers responded, one of the attackers was captured and detonated an explosives belt, the ministry statement on state media said.

One of those killed was a senior officer, ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Turki told Reuters. Local media, including al-Arabiya television, named the dead officer as General Oudah al-Belawi, the head of a border sector. A third officer was wounded, the ministry said.

The Reuters article quoted above [the quote above is from an earlier version of the article which has since been updated] relied on a single expert to blame the attack on ISIS based on the presence of a suicide bomber.

AP, on the other hand, assigned no blame, but noted (as did Reuters), that Saudi Arabia has joined the fight against ISIS in Syria.

It will be interesting to see whether any group claims responsibility for the attack and whether there are additional attacks along the Saudi-Iraq border. For now, I’d place about as much authority on the pronouncement that the presence of a suicide bomber means the attack came from ISIS as I do on Iran’s latest “documentation” that the US is controlling ISIS operations out of the embassy in Baghdad.


9 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    A general, the head of a border sector, at a border post? Sounds fishy.
    Many sources, and Senator Paul, have reported that US ally Saudi Arabia (plus Qatar, Turkey etc.) are aiding ISIS. It is absolutely in US best interest to have Iraq broken up. But the US will get burned by it, yet again, another episode in abject stupidity.
    The last Iraq bastion in Anbar is al-Asad air base, which was once second only to Balad (which itself was once only second in the world to Heathrow for traffic) and al-Asad is now completely surrounded bu ISIS forces. There are a few hundred Americans at the base, which will have to be destroyed if and when ISIS takes it. The taking of US prisoners will require deep boots-on-ground US involvement, compounding past errors and creating still another Iraq fiasco ending in a US loss.

  2. rg says:

    Something here doesn’t add up. That red pin on the map doesn’t look to be anywhere near the border. Noticing that the distance shown is greater than from Damascus to Beirut or Amman to Jerusalem, one can’t help but wonder what Saudi “border guards” were doing so far into Iraq. There seems to be some looseness in the number of victims, or officers affected. Then there’s the question of how it was determined that the attack was a “terrorist” one. Fishy, given how you’ve written about Reuters’ penchant for creative reporting that implicates Iran in matters nuclear.

    • Jim White says:

      Sorry for the unclear language in the caption. The red pin shows the location of al-Nukhayb, Iraq, which Reuters says is 80 km from the border station where the attack took place. That would put the attack right at the border, where the road connecting a-Nukhayb and Arar crosses the black line of the border on this map.

      • rg says:

        Thanks for the clarification. I note that after the AM coffee got processed, and then reading your reply, it’s clear the red pin does not point to the attack site. Sorry.

  3. Teddy says:

    Seems to me that it’s about time for Iraq/Saudi conflicts to be more public, more often, and more lethal. It’s an underserved market.

  4. bsbafflesbrains says:

    Any evidence the guards were wearing Polish Uniforms? Will the US come to the aid of our Democracy loving royalty in SA?

  5. Teddy says:

    Anyone who wants to learn more about red pins on maps, I heartily commend to them Gore Vidal’s underheralded masterpiece “Duluth,” in which a dead Hubert Humphrey lives in a spaceship shaped just like such a red thumbtack, which moves randomly when the Chief of Police moves the matching tack on his map.

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