The Arab League on Sunday decided it would build a joint military force featuring combat units from each of its 22 member nations.
USA Today reported that the move comes after two days of meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort on the Red Sea. The call-to-arms happens amid bloody civil strife in Yemen, one of the league’s members.
“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,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told The Associated Press Saturday.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi told the AP that the force would be a voluntary endeavor governed by a panel supervised by member nation leadership.
It would likely boast 40,000 elite troops backed by light armor and mechanized air and naval power, he added.
The Al Arabiya network said the league declared any member state could request the joint military if its security was threatened. The league would then act if the situation warranted combat, Al Arabiya concluded.
The league’s first potential battleground might be in Yemen, which is currently tangled in a fierce civil war. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Tuesday fled his hometown of Aden as Shiite Houthi rebels advanced on his position.
The embattled leader next retreated to Saudi Arabia, another league member, Wednesday. The Sunni government in Saudi Arabia has since conducted air strikes on the rebels, hoping it will prevent the Houthis from partnering with its Shiite rival, Iran.
The Obama administration revealed on Wednesday it is providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi military campaign. It has additionally ruled out direct military intervention, despite its close alliance with Hadi’s former government.
The conflict creates an awkward dilemma for President Obama in the Middle East. The president has long cited Yemen as a chief counterterrorism partner but also wants a tentative nuclear weapons deal with Iran by no later than Tuesday.
The Houthi rebellion began last year and has troubled Yemen’s government since. Rebel forces previously ousted Hadi from Sanaa, the nation’s capital, in February.