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To add to the concern, Pentagon officials recently told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee they believe Mali’s military will not be able to deal with continuing Islamist threats when the French troops withdraw from the country, which would put the elections in jeopardy.

A U.N. Security Council diplomat told Reuters, referring to the 12,600 U.N. peacekeepers proposed for stability in Mali: “You can’t ask the blue helmets to engage in counterterrorism.”

This means the U.N.-backed African forces will continue to need the support of French troops to establish lasting security and stability in Mali.

• John Price is a former U.S. ambassador to Comoros, Mauritius and the Seychelles islands. He currently serves as a resident scholar at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. He is the author of “When the White House Calls,” and regularly writes commentaries on Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.