Newspaper article International New York Times

Arab Nations Agree to Form Joint Military Operations ; Combined Force Designed to Counter Islamic State and Iranian Influence

Newspaper article International New York Times

Arab Nations Agree to Form Joint Military Operations ; Combined Force Designed to Counter Islamic State and Iranian Influence

Article excerpt

The agreement to counter Iranian influence and Islamist extremism was seen by many analysts as a move for more independence from the United States.

The Arab states have said that they have agreed to form a combined military force to counter both Iranian influence and Islamist extremism, a gesture many analysts attributed in large part to their drive for more independence from Washington.

The agreement on Sunday came as American and other Western diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, were racing to beat a self- imposed deadline of Tuesday to reach a deal with Iran that would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. In response, Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the region have made clear that they are seeking to bolster independent regional security measures because they see the proposed accord as a betrayal of Washington's commitment to their security.

Regardless of Iran's nuclear program, they complain, the deal would do nothing to stop Iran from seeking to extend its influence around the region by backing favored factions, as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.

Many of the Arab nations, including Egypt, Jordan and most of the Gulf monarchies, have thrown their support behind a Saudi Arabia- led campaign of airstrikes to counter advances by the Iranian- backed Houthi movement in Yemen; Washington is providing only intelligence and logistical support, but Saudi Arabia is leading the bombing while Egypt, with the largest Arab army, has pledged to send ground troops "if necessary."

How the agreement, announced at a meeting of the League of Arab States in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, will be implemented is not known. Arab military chiefs are expected to work out more of the details. Officials of the Arab League said the leadership of the combined forces, including the question of whether there might be a single command or a coalition of national units, was still under discussion. Each country's participation is expected to be voluntary.

But the proposal gained credibility because it was announced in part by the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former general who led the military takeover here in 2013.

Egypt has long considered itself the shield and protector of the oil-rich but sparsely populated Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia. Yet Mr. Sisi has an especially close relationship with the Saudis and their Gulf allies because they supported his ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.