Egyptian soldiers (illustration)
Egyptian soldiers (illustration)Reuters

After weeks of mulling over the idea, Arab foreign ministers taking part in a meeting in Egypt on Thursday declared the establishment of a unified Arab military force for rapid intervention missions, an idea that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi first called for late last month.

The ministers "agreed on an important principle, to establish the force,” Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi said as reported by AFP.

Earlier this month al-Arabi urged the creation of the force, in a meeting that included discussion of a resolution to end "Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories."

The decision on Thursday comes at an opportune timing, as earlier in the day Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies began launching an airstrike campaign against the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Houthi militia that has been conquering Yemen.

The Yemen operation constitutes a showdown of sorts between Iran as head of the Shi'ite powers on one side, and the Saudis, Egyptians and other Sunni powers on the other battling for regional hegemony.

Iran has been exercising its influence throughout the region, through it's terrorist proxy group Hezbollah in Lebanon, via Shi'ite militias in Iraq, through the Houthis in Yemen and with direct military action aided by Hezbollah in Syria propping up President Bashar al-Assad.

Egyptian TV reports that the new joint Arab force will aim to rapidly respond to security threats to Arab nations.

Al-Arabi was asked by the Arab ministers to be in touch with the chiefs of staff of the various Arab armies within one month so as to work out the logistics in establishing the new force.