Army commanders of Arab states have gathered in Cairo to discuss the formation of a joint force to be used to intervene in regional crises and combat terrorism.

Arab League Chief Nabil Elaraby opened Wednesday's meeting by saying that the force is not meant to be an "army against any country" but a "partnership" among Arab nations.

The creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense pact.

The issue came up again last month when Saudi Arabia and its allies, mostly Gulf Arab states, launched an airstrikes campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed Shiite rebels who seized much of the country and forced its U.S.- and Gulf-backed president to flee abroad.