Arab leaders agree joint military force

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Arab leaders have agreed to form a joint military force after a summit dominated by a Saudi-led offensive on Houthis in Yemen and the threat from extremism.

Arab representatives will meet over the next month to study the creation of the force and present their findings to defense ministers within four months, according to the resolution adopted by the leaders.

“Assuming the great responsibility imposed by the great challenges facing our Arab nation and threatening its capabilities, the Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi told the summit in the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The decision was mostly aimed at fighting IS extremists who have overrun swathes of Iraq and Syria and secured a foothold in Libya, Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi said ahead of the summit.

On Sunday, Al-Arabi told the meeting the region was threatened by a “destructive” force that threatened “ethnic and religious diversity,” in an apparent reference to the Islamic State group.

“What is important is that today there is an important decision, in light of the tumult afflicting the Arab world,” he said.

Egypt had pushed for the creation of the rapid response force to fight militants, and the matter gained urgency this week after Saudi Arabia and Arab allies launched air strikes on Houthi militants in Yemen.

Al-Arabi, reading a statement at the conclusion of the summit, said on Sunday the offensive would continue until the Houthis withdraw from regions they have overrun and surrender their weapons.

Several Arab states including Egypt are taking part in the military campaign, which Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman said would continue until the Yemeni people “enjoy security.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi chairs an Arab foreign ministers meeting during an Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi chairs an Arab foreign ministers meeting during an Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt.


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