Leaders of the 12-nation Arab League on Sunday agreed to create a joint military force to respond to threats in the Middle East, NBC News reported. The announcement comes amid an escalating political crisis and military conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led multinational coalition has already started launching airstrikes and ground assaults against Shi'ite Houthi rebels. Yemeni diplomats and officials have fled the country as the rebels neared the city of Aden. "We recognize the clear challenges in the Arab world and the need to take measures to combat them," said Nabil al Araby, the chairman of the Arab League. "It was evident when Yemen was falling, which necessitated Arab action, effective internationally, after exhausting all possibilities to reach a peaceful solution to the Houthi coup."