Arab League Summit agrees to establish joint Arab military forces

CAIRO: Arab league member states agreed to establish a joint Arab military force within four months, in which participation will be optional, according to the outcome document following the 26th Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh.

In a news conference following the final session, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry stated that the parties would meet again to discuss the details of the force’s establishment, but that the four-month timeframe showed “political will.”

The specific responsibilities of the proposed force have not been set out, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby said, adding that they may be assigned deterrence, peacekeeping or humanitarian relief.  Iraq was the only country that expressed its reservation regarding the decision; Araby said the Iraqi concerns were grounded in a “lack of preliminary dialogue” on the initiative.

The outcome document also announced its official support of the Saudi-lead military operation Resolute Storm in Yemen against Shiite Houthi forces; it also demanded their withdrawal from the capital of Sanaa and to return power to “legitimate authorities.”

Shokry added in news conference that the the proposed military force is separate from intervention in Yemen.

Houthis have controlled swathes of Yemen since September, and took over the capital of Sanaa in January, forcing Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to resign. Hadi later escaped to his home region of Aden where he declared himself still the president, and Aden the new capital. Arab league member states, including Egypt, recognize the legitimacy of Hadi, whereas Iran has called the Houthi takeover a revolution, and called for the stop of military strikes.

The league also called in its final draft for all countries to aid in funding Palestine’s budget for a year starting in April.

The league demanded all countries support the “legitimate authorities” in Libya, and provide them with all the political and financial support they need. The Tobruk-based government in Eastern Libya enjoyed recognition from most governments, but only controls a small portion of the country; most of Libya is under the control of militias and the so-called National Salvation Government in Tripoli.

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