‘Urgent need’ for unified Arab force to counter radicals

‘Urgent need’ for unified Arab force to counter radicals
Updated 11 March 2015

‘Urgent need’ for unified Arab force to counter radicals

‘Urgent need’ for unified Arab force to counter radicals

CAIRO: Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby called on Monday for the creation of a unified Arab force to battle the spread of extremist groups.
“There is an urgent need for the creation of a multi-purpose common Arab military force... able to intervene rapidly to fight terrorism and the activities of terrorist groups,” Elaraby told a meeting of league foreign ministers in Cairo.
He also stressed the importance of “cooperation in areas related to security protection and the exchange of information between Arab countries.”
Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Helli told reporters last week that the bloc’s leaders are expected to focus on the creation of such a common force when they meet for its annual summit on March 28-29 in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
He had said such a force was important as a “symbolic” show of deterrence at times of “conflict or disasters.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi has also called for such a force, saying it is needed to confront security threats in a region where the Islamic State group holds swathes of Syria and Iraq and has gained a foothold in Egypt’s neighbor Libya.
He has suggested that a number of Arab League members, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Jordan, are considering supporting the idea.
Meanwhile, the US military’s top officer warned Monday that the international coalition fighting Islamic State extremists could be jeopardized if the Baghdad government fails to bridge Iraq’s sectarian divide.
Iraq’s political leaders have yet to deliver on promises to reach out to the Sunni population and have raised concerns in the region by forging closer ties to Shiite-led Iran, Gen. Martin Dempsey said after spending several hours in Baghdad.
For the longer term, the solidarity of the anti-IS coalition — which includes Sunni Arab states — could be put at risk, Dempsey told reporters in Manama.
Flying over Baghdad by helicopter earlier, Dempsey noted Shiite militia banners flying over many buildings, describing “the plethora of flags, only one of which happens to be the Iraqi flag.” He said Sunni Arab countries in the region, several of which are taking part in air strikes in Syria, were anxious over Iran’s influence in Iraq.