Arab League Leaders Agree to Form Joint Military Force

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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — Arab leaders agreed on Sunday to establish a joint military force to respond to security threats facing member nations.

The announcement on the closing day of the Arab League summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh came amid an escalating crisis in Yemen. A multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes there this week to weaken Shiite Houthi rebels who have been making a play for power — an advance that has forced Yemen’s president to flee the country.

Nabil al Araby, chairman of the Arab League, told the summit Sunday that those airstrikes will continue “until the Houthi militias withdraw and surrender their weapons.”

“We recognize the clear challenges in the Arab world and the need to take measures to combat them,” Al Araby said. “It was evident when Yemen was falling, which necessitated Arab action, effective internationally, after exhausting all possibilities to reach a peaceful solution to the Houthi coup.”

He said the process of setting up a joint force could take five to six months. It was not immediately clear what nations would be participating in the force.

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said the Arab leaders agreed on the principle of the force and that they would now pull together a "high-level team" with representatives from each country to work on its creation.

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— Charlene Gubash
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