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Arab League leaders agree to joint, voluntary military force

The announcement comes after a 10-member coalition was created to fight Houthi rebels in Yemen.

By Andrew V. Pestano
Arab League leaders agree to joint, voluntary military force
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) giving a speech during the Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on March 28, 2015. Egypt is hosting a weekend Arab summit at which regional leaders will discuss plans to form a joint military force against the backdrop of Saudi-led strikes on rebels in Yemen. Photo by Egyptian Presidency Office/UP | License Photo

SHARM EL-SHEIK , Egypt, March 29 (UPI) -- Leaders of the 22-member Arab League have agreed to create a joint, voluntary military force to combat threats to security.

"The Arab leaders have decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at the closing of a League of Arab States summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, on Sunday.

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The announcement comes after Saudi Arabia pledged to contribute 150,000 soldiers and 100 warplanes to combat Houthi rebels in Yemen, who Saudi Arabia accuses of being backed by Iran.

The 10-member coalition in Yemen includes Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt -- all of whom have offered fighter jets or naval ships.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the Saudi-led offensive, dubbed "Operation Decisive Storm," 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," al-Arabi said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the coalition's actions on Yemen, calling it "military aggression" and demanding all operations to cease.

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It is unlikely that all 22 members of the Arab League will join the announced military force. Members of the Arab League include Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Qatar and Somalia.

Plans for a joint military force have been discussed before, but never materialized.

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