The attack on Yemen will continue until Shiite Houthi rebels in that country “withdraw and surrender their weapons,” a coalition of Arab leaders announced Sunday at the conclusion of the Arab League Summit, held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh this weekend.
Leaders of the 14 member states—which include the Gulf States, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, Palestine and Somalia—also agreed to the formation of a joint military task force. According to an unnamed source, the task for “would be tasked with intervening in Arab states at their request to protect them against ‘danger,’ without specifying what kind of threats could lead to the taskforce’s deployment,” the Middle East Eye reports.
Opening the final session of the summit, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby stressed an “absolute need” to confront all threats to the national security of Arab states, Egypt’s Al Ahram reports.
Focusing specifically on Yemen, which since Thursday has withstood ongoing bombings by a Saudi-led coalition, El-Araby said, “We will continue to fight the Houthi rebels until they surrender and hand over their weapons.”
In a speech at the closure of the summit, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced the new military force. Membership in the fighting force, El-Sisi said, would be compulsory and that a “high-level” team led by Arab army generals will be tasked with the formation of the force.
The formation of the joint military force, the New York Times noted on Sunday, puts the Arab League “on a path to more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran.”
Saudi Arabia’s military continued to bomb Houthi-held positions across Yemen on Saturday evening, in what it claims is a defensive attack to prevent the alleged Iranian-backed rebels from gaining control of the strategic territory. The Yemen Times reports that air strikes continued to target the Yemen military’s elite Reserve Forces, known as the Republican Guard, which are widely viewed as being loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Despite the prevailing rhetoric at the Arab League Summit in support of the operation, a number of Arab leaders expressed reservations.
According to the Middle East Eye:
On Saturday, the director of the Ministry of Health’s office in Yemen said that 60 people have been killed and over 500 injured since Operation Decisive Storm began Thursday.
Iraqi President Fuad Masoum repeated his calls for caution at the Arab League summit on Saturday, calling on all sides to join the negotiating table and avert a possible “civil war” in the impoverished Gulf State.
“The recent military developments…further complicate the conflicts between all parties, which will lead to more threats in the region,” Masoum told the delegates.
“Foreign interventions will not help the Yemeni people,” he added.
Representatives of other member states also expressed reservations about the details of any proposal to create a joint military taskforce, but confirmed their support for the plan in theory.
Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra, confirmed that he would not oppose the suggestion, but said the proposal required “clear strategic analysis and strong planning” in order to succeed, he told the press on the sidelines of the conference.
Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s Foreign Minister, said on Saturday that all members were agreed on the proposal “in principle,” but stated that negotiations were necessary to hammer out the specifics of the taskforce.
– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/arab-league-back-joint-military-taskfo…
For updates on the unfolding situation, Common Dreams has curated a Twitter feed of trusted voices.
Tweets from https://twitter.com/commondreams/lists/trusted-voices-on-yemen
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.