Nabil Elaraby said at the opening session of a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday that the rise of "Islamic State" (IS) militants in Iraq threatened not only the authority of the state, but "its very existence and the existence of other states."
The Arab League chief also chastised the grouping for not yet having confronted the threat posed by IS fighters, despite having a legal mechanism to do so.
Elaraby pointed to a 1950 joint-defense agreement, which allows the Arab League's 22 member states to take joint action "to help any Arab country to face the challenges to its security, safety and territorial integrity." This includes the possible use of military force.
Several Arab foreign ministers spoke of the seriousness of the danger posed by IS fighters.
Elaraby's and the foreign ministers' comments came ahead of an address US President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver on Wednesday to outline his plans to confront IS fighters.
Support for US, Iraqi efforts
The Reuters news agency cited unnamed diplomatic sources who said the Arab League ministers would likely pass a resolution at their talks in support of US and Iraqi efforts to stop IS forces, who have declared a "caliphate" in the areas of Syria and Iraq, which they control.
The sources said the final draft would endorse a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council last month, which urged member states to "act to suppress the flow of foreign fighters, financing and other support to Islamist extremist groups in Iraq and Syria."
US airstrikes in Anbar
Meanwhile, the US military said on Sunday that its fighter jets had launched airstrikes targeting IS fighters near the Haditha Dam in Iraq's western Anbar province. Although government forces still control the dam, the militants have been trying to seize control of it and other key dams across the country.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters during a trip to Georgia that the air force had launched the strikes on the request of the Iraqi government.
pfd/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)