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Noah Feldman

Why a Sunni Coalition Is Good for U.S.

If an Egyptian-Saudi-Jordanian force has success in Yemen, Islamic State could be its next target.

An old saw has it that “Arab unity” is an oxymoron on par with “military intelligence.” Read not as racial essentialism but as a critique of pan-Arabism, the observation has been true in the modern era. Yet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s announcement of an agreement “in principle” by the Arab League to create a joint military force may just be different. Because Islamic State is unlikely to be defeated by air power alone, the U.S. should probably welcome the step -- as should Israel.

The specific politics that generated the proposal have to do with Egypt's desire to re-establish its stature in the Arab world post-Arab Spring, and with Saudi Arabia's desire to keep an Iranian-backed regime from gaining a foothold in Yemen.