US rules out military intervention in Islamist-dominated breakaway region of Mali

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Still, the Obama administration is under pressure to restore democracy and territorial integrity to the country, which has turned into a hotbed for Islamic insurgents linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. 

“No matter how difficult this matter is to address,” said panel Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), “there are too many people affected for the United States to fail to provide leadership in the effort to solve this political-social crisis.”

Since the coup, the United States has terminated assistance to the country, removed its Peace Corps volunteers and imposed travel sanctions on some 60 people linked to the coup. 

Pressed about what the United States should do to help Mali regain control of the northern part of the country, Carson said there's “more of a role to play in the south at this point.” Part of the concern is to avoid driving Tuareg rebels further into the hands of Islamic militants with ties to terror groups, with whom they currently have an uneasy alliance.

“We believe the Tuareg rebellion is a political problem that requires addressing the legitimate grievances of the Tuareg groups in northern Mali,” he testified. “We support regional and international efforts to negotiate a resolution with those groups who have expressed a willingness to enter into dialogue with the Malian government.”