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At the hearing, several members of the Foreign Affairs Committee asked why Mali was important to U.S. interests. Mr. Carson succinctly explained that Mali’s security was important to our national security interests — especially since AQIM and affiliated Islamists are spreading across the Sahel region.

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 the book “When the White House Calls” and regularly writes commentaries on Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.