Sunni Arab states establish military coalition to fight Iran-led Shi’ites

Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, are banding together to fight the Houthi-Shi’ite onslaught, led by Iran, in Yemen.

Leaders of Sunni Arab states have announced plans to establish a joint task force to fight terror and destabilizing elements in the Middle East.

“The Arab leaders have agreed in principle to form a joint military force to address growing Arab challenges and threats,” they said in a statement on Sunday at the conclusion of a two-day summit at Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai. It was attended by foreign ministers who focused on developments in Yemen, Libya and Syria.

Under the resolution, each Arab country will contribute to the joint military force, which will be tasked mainly with “swift military intervention” in case an Arab League member state comes under threat.

The Arab leaders tasked Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby with meeting with Arab chiefs of staff within a month to discuss details of the joint force.

Mideast Yemen

Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Sa’ana, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

In the statement, they condemned Iran’s aggressive actions in the region, the latest being its support for the Shi’ite Houthi rebels who have taken over Yemen, threatening international maritime trade coming through the Bab el-Mandeb strait.

The leaders urged Iran to respect other countries’ sovereignty and to “halt such violations and provocative acts that constitute intervention in internal affairs of independent and sovereign states.”

The Arab leaders reaffirmed full support for the Saudi-led Operation Determination Storm, launched last week to push back the Houthi rebels in Yemen in the hope of restoring security and stability to Yemen.

The military measures, according to the resolution, counter Houthi attempts supported by “external parties,” namely Iran. “These external parties aim to threaten security of Yemen, the region and the Arab national security, as well as the international peace and security through sequestration of the Yemeni will, arousing seditions and dismantling the country’s social fabric and national unity.”

For the past five days, the air forces of the Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt have been pounding Houthi positions in Yemen, primarily in the capital. There has been talk of a ground invasion as well.

The Arab leaders urged the Houthi militias to withdraw immediately from all areas where they have taken control.

They underlined support for the Yemeni leadership and people in their continuous and open war against “terrorism and piracy,” emphasizing the necessity of making “urgent arrangements” to handle the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, where more than 16 million people are suffering severe shortages of food and medical care.