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The U.N. and U.S. conditions of re-establishing democratic institutions first and negotiating with the Islamists lost Mali 11 months of precious time — almost waiting too long.

The U.S.-backed military incursion in Libya for regime change took 11 months from start to finish. In the process, it destabilized Mali and emboldened Islamist extremists throughout the Sahel.

It is not too late for the U.N. and U.S. to support military action against these embedded Islamists. It is time for the United States to step up and support France, ECOWAS and the African Union to help free the Malian people from the Islamist extremists before Mali becomes an Islamic state.

John Price served as U.S. ambassador to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Comoro Islands from Feb. 8, 2002, to June 17, 2005. 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.