Yemen crisis: Middle East leaders agree to create first joint Arab military force

Egypt-led talks held to combat Iranian-backed militia that has driven out the government of Yemen, as Saudi-led air strikes continued for a fourth day

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Sunday 29 March 2015 23:57
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Arab League leaders including (from left to right): Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman, second and Yemeni President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi,
Arab League leaders including (from left to right): Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kuwait's Emir Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman, second and Yemeni President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi,

World leaders meeting in Egypt have agreed to the creation of a joint Arab military force to face the modern "challenges" of the Middle East.

Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, said the 22 member states of the Arab League would combine forces under the supervision of their various chiefs of staff.

The proposed joint army would have roughly 40,000 troops picked from the elite of nations including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar and Egypt itself, and would be supported by tanks, jets and warships.

The move comes as the crisis in Yemen continued to escalate, with Saudi-led air strikes against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels entered a fourth day.

The advance of Isis and the civil war in Syria, now entering its fifth year, are among the complex dangers facing the region, where previous schemes of a similar nature have failed to produce results.

Documents from the weekend's Arab League called for "coordination, efforts and steps to establish a unified Arab force" to intervene in situations like Yemen.

But it is unlikely to have an immediate military impact on what is increasingly becoming a war by proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Working out the mechanism and logistics of the unified force, an idea first floated by former general Sisi, could take months.

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