While the US government remains shut down due to deadlock between Trump and his Congressional opponents over funding for his flagship wall on the Mexican border, without the fanfare typical in US politics, Turkey has successfully erected a substantial security wall on its border with Syria. Turkey’s security wall on the Syrian border totals 911 kilometers (566-miles) and is fully equipped with the latest in both physical and digital technologies. Construction on the wall began in 2015 and finished in 2018 while a similar 114 kilometre rampart on the Iranian border with Turkey is expected to be competed sometime this year.
While the political situation on Turkey’s borders that previous terror groups including the PKK and Daesh (ISIS) had used to their advantage is indicative of a very different situation than that on the southern border of the United States, as the US border is continually violated by narcotics smugglers and other criminal elements, there is a legitimate security concern in respect of the southern border with Mexico. Beyond this, while the US border with Mexico is 3,145 kilometers long (1,945 miles), Turkey’s project nevertheless is a comparable mega-project and one made more complicated due to the fact that it covers the border between Turkey and more than one neighbouring state. As Turkey also seeks to build a similar wall on the border with Iraq, the Turkish project is in some ways even more technically complicated than the lengthy proposed Trump wall with Mexico.
US media reports that Turkey’s border wall with Syria cost $672 million not including maintenance. Even taking into account the upgrades to the Syria border wall’s security apparatus and the added costs of the Iran wall and a future Iraq wall, it is clear that Turkey’s ultra-modern security wall has cost vastly less in dollar terms than Trump’s border wall which is estimate to cost a staggering $33 billion.
At a time when Donald Trump has stated that he seeks to improve trade with Turkey as part of an overall attempt to resurrect the Turkey-US partnership that hit rock bottom in earlier 2018, the US President should consider asking the same Turkish contractors who built Turkey’s own security border walls to tender an official bid to construct a wall on the US border with Mexico.
Furthermore, Turkey could also look into offering the US a discount on the building of the wall in exchange for a future substantial trade deal that is more comprehensive than those currently in place between the two states. On the whole, Turkey has effectively demonstrated that whatever one thinks of the issues surrounding Trump’s wall within the context of US politics, Ankara has the proven ability to build highly sophisticated modern border rampart in a rapid time-frame and with a budget that is far smaller than proposals being aired in the United States.
Because of this, Turkey could clearly help its US partner in finding a solution to the controversial border wall in the US and in so doing, demonstrate that the potential for a modern bilateral Turkey-US partnership can extend far beyond negotiations over the Syria conflict. This is true just as sure as Russia’s construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power station is symptomatic of the fact that the rapidly growing Turkey-Russia partnership involves far more than cooperation in Syria within both a bilateral framework and as part of the trilateral Astana peace format.
While even Donald Trump’s biggest supporters have ignored Turkey’s achievements in the realm of border security, it is high time that both American supporters of the wall and Americans who simply want to save money in terms of border security more generally, each look to Turkey for a solution to one of the biggest issues in domestic US politics.