A US delegation is headed for Kabul to persuade President Hamid Karzai to approve a program of glyphosate spraying over the opium-producing lands of southeast Afghanistan. The private contractor Dyncorp is to carry out the spraying in cooperation with a specially-trained Afghan force. The US is willing to negotiate, but makes clear it will not take glyphosate off the table. “There has to be a stick that goes with the carrot,” said Thomas Schweich, State Department co-ordinator for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. Eradication had to be a component of US policy, he emphasized.
Controversy over the spraying is causing rifts within NATO, with Germany strongly dissenting. Poppy cultivation has fallen or stabilised in the north-central provinces that are relatively secure, but risen in the west, south and east, where the Taliban insurgency is growing. (FT, May 25)
Note: The Financial Times mis-spells glyphosate as “glycophate.”