The need to evolve a stable political system in Mali is a daunting task as is the rebooting of the economy. More widely, powers from outside the region seem only now to be waking up to the danger posed by AQIM. The French action may have stopped Mali from becoming a second Somalia. But as Cameron put it at the weekend, the situation in the Sahel region of North Africa requires a response that will be "about years, even decades, rather than months" and which conjures up the specter of another Afghanistan. For European states which are keen to disengage from Afghanistan, that is a most unwelcome prospect, bringing with it a fresh test of just what the European Union means beyond the coordination of the economies of its 27 member states. Though Britain supplied two transport planes, the initial move to shore up the Mali government militarily was almost entirely a French effort with the central EU bodies in Brussels proving tardy with anything more than rhetorical backing.