Arab leaders to form coalition against ISIS

The Houthi expansion into mostly Sunni areas in the centre and west has led to months of clashes with local tribes and al Qaeda, raising fears of civil war. (PHOTO: Reuters).

Originally published in Christian Today

Leaders across the Arab world announced on Sunday (March 29, 2015) that they will form a military coalition in opposition of extremist forces such as the Islamic State (IS).

The representatives agreed to study the creation of a joint military force, and present their analyses to defense ministers in four months.  

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The meeting took place in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, and the leaders will meet again over the next month. 

“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 al-Sisi told those in attendance. 

Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi said that the meeting was geared toward combating terrorism in Iraq and Syria, as well as militant threats in Libya. In an apparent reference to IS, the chief discussed a “destructive” force threatening “ethnic and religious diversity” in the Middle East. 

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

Talks of a joint military force were accelerated after air strikes were launched on Houthi rebels in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies. Al-Arabi confirmed that the strokes will continue until the rebels withdraw and surrender their weapons. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized his desire for peace in the area. 

“It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen,” he said at the meeting. 

 S Rajaratnam School of International Studies Middle East analyst James Dorsey said that a military coalition will meet opposition as leaders hesitate to cede any power, and expressed doubt that a joint force will be a reality “anytime soon.”

“Today we will have a formal declaration that would be negotiated every time during action,” he said following the summit. 

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