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Shape of permanent Arab military force to be decided within 4 months: Egypt FM

The proposed joint military force would be different from the current Saudi-led military coalition striking Yemen, Sameh Shoukry tells the press

Ahram Online , Sunday 29 Mar 2015
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Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Araby (L) and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry answer questions from journalists during a news conference after the closing session of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, March 29, 2015.(Photo: Reuters)
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Arab leaders will agree on the composition and mode of intervention of a planned Arab joint military force within four months, Egypt's FM Sameh Shoukry stated on Sunday.

Shoukry, in a press conference with Arab League Chief Nabil Al-Arabi, said that the proposed military joint force would be permanent, and in this way different from the current Saudi-led military coalition that has been carrying out strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

He also added that the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, launched along with a group of allies, has a single focus, and includes non-Arab countries, whereas membership to the planned joint military force will be restricted to Arab states.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and regional allies launched military attacks against alleged Houthi rebel sites in Yemen, after Houthi fighters on Wednesday stormed the southern coastal city of Aden.

Arab governments, meeting at the Arab League summit in Sharm El-Sheikh over the weekend, declared that they would support the Saudi-led action in Yemen, until Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi is restored to power.

Within a month, Arab defence ministries will meet to further discuss the military force, Al-Arabi announced, reiterating that joining the force is "voluntary" for Arab states.

Al-Arabi added that Arab countries "felt that there are threats that need to have a collective response."

In the opening session of the 26th Arab Summit on Saturday, held in Egypt's Sharm El-Shiekh, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for the formulation of such force, stressing that Arab countries are facing unprecedented threats to their stability and identity.

Qatar

At the press conference, Shoukry denied any knowledge of a Saudi-led reconciliation attempt between Egypt and Qatar.

He added that the Qatari ambassador to Egypt, who was recalled to his country for "consultation" last February, after the Egyptian Arab League envoy publicly accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, had come to Sharm El-Sheikh along with the Qatari delegation.

However, Shoukry said he doesn't know whether the Qatari ambassador will remain in Egypt or return to his country.

The Qatari-Egyptian relationship has been strained since the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Qatar, a strong supporter of Morsi, criticised Morsi's ouster through its flagship TV broadcaster Al-Jazeera and dubbed it a "military coup".

Foreign influence

Meanwhile, Al-Arabi stated that the foreign countries interfering in the Middle East, repeatedly referred to in the Sharm El-Sheikh summit's final declaration, are Israel, Turkey and Iran.

The declaration stated that "Arab national security is under multidimensional threats… sponsored by outside parties."

The two-day annual Arab League Summit concluded mid-day on Sunday. The next summit is scheduled to take place in Morocco next year.

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