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What To Know About The Joint Arab Military Force

Crises across the middle east – and Yemen in particular – have created impetus for a joint Arab military force, designed to quell Islamic extremism.

Following Saudi Arabia’s decision to begin bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen, talks of forming a joint military force in an effort to combat extremism in the region have escalated rather quickly.

Now, with the backing of a major consensus, the joint arab military force is already being assembled.

Here’s everything you need to know about what the coalition will look like.

The size of the force would be substantial

In the preliminary stages, the coalition is said to eventually consist of 40,000 ground troops, as well as a sizable arsenal of warships, planes,  tanks, and light armor.

The involvement of Saudi Arabia may prove to be the biggest factor in making a joint arab military an effective fighting force.

According to Business Insider, Saudi Arabia has a defense budget of about $57 billion, in addition to 233,000 or so active frontline personnel – this puts them in the top three most formidable forces in the Middle East alongside Israel and Turkey.

Though the proposal was submitted through the 21 member-state Arab League, not all of the countries in the league are expected to join. So far, only Egypt and Saudi Arabia have signed on.

Right now, the main target are Houthi rebels in Yemen

Calls for the coalitions formation began in the wake of major advancements by the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

These rebels have already taken over large swaths of Northern Yemen, including the capital of Sanaa, and have even been successful in ousting the Yemeni President Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries worry that if the Houthis take control of Yemen, they may spread their campaign elsewhere and upend other Sunni majority countries in the process.

Some worry that a joint Arab military force may destabilize the region further

Analysts have already begun warning of a joint Arab military’s intervention in the Yemeni conflict.

They say that any “boots on the ground” involvement could lead to a quagmire, given the Houthi’s intimate knowledge of the landscape and their propensity for guerilla warfare.

Additionally, any such force may agitate Iran, a Shiite affiliated country who is believed to be funding Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran has already condemned Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

Even in its infancy, an Arab coalition faces many obstacles

The fractious nature of Arab countries has many experts skeptical that such a force – even if the will was behind it – could actually come to fruition.

For one, there’s sectarianism. The fact that the force would be backed primarily by Sunni majority countries (like Saudi Arabia and Egypt), could prove to be a major obstacle in the way of unifying with other Shiite nations like Iran and Iraq.

National sovereignty may also become a factor, as a some countries may be reluctant to allow perceived foreign forces to meddle in their affairs.

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James Pero