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Egypt's President: It's time for an Arab coalition against ISIS

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says the need for a unified Arab force against ISIS becomes "more pressing every day."

Story highlights

  • "This is a big deal, and it's absolutely the right first step," U.S. Maj. Gen. James Marks says
  • Jordan and the UAE have offered military assistance to Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says

(CNN)As ISIS continues it murderous rampage in the Middle East, Egypt's President said it's time for more Arab countries to join forces against the terror group.

"The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a televised speech Sunday.
    El-Sisi said Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have offered military help as Egypt amplifies its battle against ISIS in neighboring Libya.
    CNN military analyst Maj. Gen. James "Spider" Marks said "it's about time" an Arab leader like el-Sisi made such a statement.
    "Strategically and politically for the region, this is a big deal, and it's absolutely the right first step," the retired U.S. Army officer said.
    El-Sisi's statement came after U.S. President Barack Obama called for other countries last week to step up their efforts in the fight against ISIS.
    The United States is leading a coalition to fight ISIS from the sky over Iraq and Syria. But according to U.S. Central Command, 80% of the airstrikes have been conducted by the United States; the other 20% were launched by other coalition countries.
    And there's serious doubt about whether airstrikes alone will eliminate ISIS.
    "The airstrikes aren't going to get the job done," CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes told CNN's "New Day." "We need the Arab states to be the ones to eventually put the boots on the ground. Whether they actually end up doing it and being dedicated to this, we'll have to see."

    What's missing

    El-Sisi didn't specify exactly what he meant by a "united Arab force" and whether that means troops on the ground.
    The idea of a pan-Arab force has been talked about for generations. But past efforts have been marred by distrust among Arab nations.
    Now, they have a common enemy in ISIS, a formidable regional threat.

    Beyond Iraq and Syria

    ISIS was initially known for trying to establish an Islamic State across parts of Iraq and Syria, and it has captured swaths of land in both countries.
    But the group is expanding its reach.
    How ISIS justifies its actions
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    Last week, ISIS released a gruesome video that appeared to show militants beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. In response, Egypt launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS in Libya.
    But in his speech Sunday, el-Sisi said the Egyptian army isn't trying to invade foreign territory.
    "Your armed forces only protect the people of Egypt, and we coordinate with our Arab brothers," he said.

    Peshmerga fighters in cages

    As world leaders talk about what to do about ISIS, the militants' atrocities and threats carry on.
    On Saturday, ISIS released a new propaganda video showing what appears to be Kurdish Peshmerga fighters paraded down Iraqi streets in cages atop pickup trucks.
    ISIS releases video of Peshmerga fighters in cages
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    The video features a man saying the Peshmerga soldiers were captured by ISIS. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
    A man with a microphone bearing the ISIS logo interviews some of the captives. The prisoners, under duress, call on their fellow Peshmerga soldiers to give up their fight against ISIS.
    The heavily edited footage also includes flashback images of the beheadings of the Christian Egyptians.
    The man in the video gives an ominous warning:
    "We say to the Peshmerga: Leave your jobs, or your fate will be like these, either the cage, or under the ground."