Western diplomats see danger in Mali

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — If top diplomats are right, the world’s next inevitable war is in Mali, a West African country where al-Qaida-linked militants have seized control of vast swaths of the Sahara Desert.

Western capitals are desperately trying to prevent Mali from becoming the next Somalia: an African country with a notoriously unstable government challenged by Islamic militants who may also pose a risk to the United States and its interests.

Lending urgency to those calling for action, U.S. officials cited in news reports have implicated al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb, one of the groups controlling northern Mali, in the September attack on the U.S. mission in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The idea being touted is a difficult, Western-backed African military intervention against the rebels in the north.

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