Arab League countries agree to establish unified military force
The Arab League countries have agreed to establish a joint military force to counter increasing regional security threats.
Signed during the two-day Arab summit in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh, the communiqué calls for creation of a voluntary Arab military force that can be deployed to combat challenges threatening the safety and security of any member, based on a request made by that country, as reported by Al Arabiya News.
According to media reports, the organisation will now create a 'high-level team' with representatives from each of its members to formulate the structure and mechanism of the future force over the next few months.
Undisclosed Egyptian officials were quoted by Associated Press as saying that the force would consist of 40,000 elite soldiers, and will be supported by fighter jets, naval vessels and light armour.
However, the participation of all 22 League members in the proposed force currently remains unclear.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told the news agency that the joining would be optional for members, and also noted that Iraq has already expressed its concerns about the proposal.
Headquartered in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, or Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, the proposed force will require permission from the UN Security Council to initiate any military action, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The agreement comes days after a Saudi Arabian-led coalition started launching airstrikes against the Shi'ite Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital city of Sana'a, as part of Operation Decisive Storm.
Supported by aircraft from Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, as well as the UAE, the operation is aimed to weaken Houthis, who currently control large swathes of Yemen including Sana'a, and also dissolved the parliament earlier this year.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the offensive would: "Continue until the militia withdraws and surrenders its weapons.
"Yemen was on the brink of the abyss, requiring effective Arab and international moves after all means of reaching a peaceful resolution have been exhausted to end the Houthi coup and restore legitimacy."