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Go slow on Mali intervention

Regarding the Dec. 10 editorial “The world’s largest terror base”:

Hasty intervention in northern Mali would all too easily make matters worse. A polyglot force under divided command, composed of troops with uncertain discipline and no knowledge of the vast and complex region, risks morphing into another presence of the Congo variety that lasts forever and accomplishes nothing.

It makes far more sense to wait until Mali, which had a functioning democracy until recently, regains its political feet following new elections and can help to do its own police work in the north with a revived and retrained army.

We need to remember that most of the jihadists in the north are non-Malians, including those from Algeria (which understandably doesn’t want them back). The goal of Malian control must be supported by a robust resumption of long-term economic assistance in the north, combined with a multilateral regime to police the multinational Sahara desert, now in the hands more of black market traffickers than jihadists. This is where U.S. and French assistance should be focused.

Robert Pringle, Alexandria

The writer was U.S. ambassador to Mali from 1987 to 1990.

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