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Arab states plan joint military force


03-30-2015 13:04 BJT

As the Saudi-led coalition continues their air campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, Arab leaders have agreed to form a joint military force. The news comes after the conclusion of an Arab League summit in Egypt, which was dominated by the conflict in Yemen.

It was a nation that for years have been in deep chaos...but now looks to be on the verge of a full-blown civil war.

A Saudi-led coalition continues airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, targeting weapon depots, command centers and aircraft.

The Shia rebels, called Houthis, are being backed by Iran. They took charge of the capital last September, and now control large parts of the country.

Saudi Arabia said it has made no decision about whether to send ground troops across the border, but is keeping its options open.

"This is just a cross border artillery operation against some targets in the northern region of Yemen. We are using Apache helicopters to attack some concentration of force for the militias but there is no major land operation in the scheduled arrangement," said Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, Spokesman for the Coalition.

Already, 35 people have been killed in the air raids. That's according to the Yemeni health ministry, currently in the hands of the Houthis.

Arab leaders at a summit in Egypt over the weekend announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the region.

"Arab leaders have decided to create an Arab military force... based on the creation of an elite team, under the supervision of the chiefs of the armed forces of member countries," Egyptian President  Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi said.

But there's an important question that remains unanswered- will the conflict in Yemen morph into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran? As with all issues affecting the Middle East, the situation is open to different interpretations.

Arab leaders say the Saudi-led air campaign will not stop until all Houthis surrender and a strong unified Yemen returns. In response, the rebels have said they will continue their fight to protect the Shiite community against widespread discrimination from President Hadi's government.

Despite Yemen being in the international spotlight, it seems there's little sign that the violence will let up any time soon.

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