Arab nations to create joint military force: Audacity, irony, or sick joke?

Arab leaders at a summit in Egypt announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya, and as regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran engage in sectarian proxy wars.1

Audacity: forming a unified military force involving 10 countries, 100 aircraft, and 150,000 soldiers to counter security threats when for years the same countries sat on their hands while fellow Arab nations Syria and Iraq were being destroyed by armed conflicts.

[Egyptian President] Sisi has repeatedly called for concerted Arab and Western action against what he sees as an existential threat posed by groups operating in Libya and elsewhere.2

While conflicts intensify in Yemen and Libya, the civil war in Syria is entering its fifth year. Islamic State militants have taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria and spawned splinter groups across the Arab world.3

Irony: the takfiris these Arabs now perceive as threats are the product of some of the countries involved in creating the unified military force. First al Qaeda and then Daesh and al Nusra were funded and supported by these very same countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait.4 All more or less adhere to the same Wahhabi beliefs as the militants.

The current chaos in Libya was directly caused by the Arab League, who “called on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in a bid to protect civilians from air attack,”5 which culminated in the murder of Muammar Ghaddafi and the overthrow of his government. Now the same Arabs themselves are killing civilians from the air by bombing Yemen, including killing 45 Yemenis residing in a refugee camp in North Yemen.

The chaos in Syria was exacerbated by the Arab League which suspended Syria and attempted to recognise the opposition as the legitimate government.6 It has repeatedly called for President Assad’s ouster and blames Russia and Iran for causing the thousands of deaths. Instead of this obstructionism, it could have aided the Syrian government in its battle against takfiris and the current threat justifying the formation of the military force would not exist.

In Iraq Daesh overrun several towns and cities while being funded and supported by the Persian Gulf Arab countries. If Daesh had been halted earlier in Syria this would never have happened.

Finally, by attacking and weakening the Houthis in Yemen they are providing breathing space for al Qaeda in Yemen, who the Houthis had been battling. This will no doubt provide an excuse to wage another war in years to come.

Sick joke: forming a military to combat regional issues after years of ignoring the suffering of Palestinians (or even contributing to their suffering e.g. Egypt closing its border with Gaza). Even now there is no suggestion that this Arab military will be helping the Palestinians in any way. In fact, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah has welcomed the Arab initiative and hinted it could remove Hamas from power7 – it is difficult to see how that will not lead to further death and suffering of Palestinians.

For all their crocodile tears over the Palestinians and empty words against Israel, this military is being formed to entrench their despotic regimes in power by combating any group which threatens their rule – be it Houthis in Yemen, oppressed Bahrainis protesting against their government, or the rising power of Iran.

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Georgy M 2015, ‘Arab summit agrees on unified military force for crises’, Reuters, 29 March 2015,
  2. Al Jazeera 2015, ‘Sis says Arab nations to create joint military force’, Al Jazeera, 31 March 2015,
  3. Georgy M 2015, ‘Arab summit agrees on unified military force for crises’, Reuters, 29 March 2015,
  4. Henderson S 2014, ‘The battle for Iraq is a Saudi war on Iran’, Foreign Policy, 12 June 2014,
  5. Al Jazeera 2011, ‘Arab states seek Libya no-fly zone’, Al Jazeera, 12 March 2011,
  6. Batty D & Shenker J 2011, ‘Syria suspended from Arab League’, The Guardian, 13 November 2011,
  7. Abunimah A 2015, ‘Mahmoud Abbas calls for Arab military intervention against Hamas in Gaza’, The Electronic Intifada, 30 March 2015,

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