Mali wouldn't want us there anyway

REUTERS/Adama Diarra

REUTERS/Adama Diarra

John Robson, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

Timbuktu is a mess these days. But it's far from obvious that Canada can or should fix it up.

The name may invoke exotic unreality. But it's a real place, currently held by Islamist rebels in Mali — an enormous, landlocked stretch of African desert divided between jihadis and an unstable incompetent undemocratic regime. And while it's wretched that Islamist fanatics are killing people and trashing world heritage sites you never heard of there, let's do a little reconnaissance before shouldering our packs and trudging past Fort Zinderneuf (supposedly in Niger) to Bamako and beyond.

To begin with, Mali is the bit of West Africa looking vaguely like a raptor's open mouth west of Niger, east of Mauritania and northwest of Burkina Faso. So yes, it's a bit hard to get there.


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