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Thu 23 Apr 2015 11:00 AM

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Arab League begins formation of joint military force

Army chiefs have begun work to create a regional military force to fight terrorism, maintain security

Arab League begins formation of joint military force
A general view of the meeting of the army chiefs from Arab League nations at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. (Getty Images)

Army chiefs from Arab League nations have begun work on creating a joint military force, according to AP.

The force would be deployed to fight terrorism and militants only, Arab League secretary-general Nabil El Arabi said on Wednesday.

“The creation of a joint Arab force in no way aims to form a new alliance or army hostile to any country, but a force to fight terrorism and maintain security, peace and stability in the region,” El Arabi said.

Arab nations agreed to establish the regional military bloc in March and its creation is being led by the Egyptian Armed Forces’ chief of staff Mahmud Hegazy.

Hegazy said there was a need to “fight terrorism”, adding the force may intervene in internal conflicts, AP said.

“We cannot ignore internal conflicts and the growth of terrorist organisations in an Arab country, and it is wrong to think that these conflicts have no direct or indirect repercussions in other Arab countries,” he said.

The league has given itself four months to decide on the force’s composition, precise rules of engagement and required budget.

Wednesday’s meeting will make proposals to the Arab heads of state that are expected to be ratified within three months, AP said.

An Arab military force has been mooted for years, but finally gained proper support in March after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi pushed for its creation following the slaughter of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya in February.

Saudi Arabia, which is leading the intervention in Yemen, also backed it.

The two countries are the most populous and the richest, respectively, in the region.

According to unconfirmed reports, an Arab defence force would be twice the size of NATO’s Response Force, with 40,000 men, AP said.

That would include 500-1000 members of the air command, 3000-5000 in the naval command and 34,000-35,000 in the land forces.

The land forces will have three subcommands made up of a special operations command, a rapid reaction force and a rescue operations command, AP said.

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