Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are discussing the creation of a military pact to take on Islamic militants, with the possibility of a joint force to intervene around the Middle East, The Associated Press has learned.

The alliance would also serve as a show of strength to counterbalance their traditional rival, Shiite-dominated, Iran. Two countries are seen as potential theaters for the alliance to act, senior Egyptian military officials said: Libya, where Islamic militants have taken over several cities, and Yemen, where Shiite rebels suspected of links to Iran have seized control of the capital.

The discussions reflect a new assertiveness among the Middle East’s Sunni powerhouses, whose governments – after three years of post-Arab Spring turmoil in the region – have increasingly come to see Sunni Islamic militants and Islamist political movements as a threat. […]