KABUL, Afghanistan — Prospects for an orderly withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan suffered two blows on Thursday as President Hamid Karzai demanded that the United States confine troops to major bases by next year, and the Taliban announced that they were suspending peace talks with the Americans.March 16, the Scotsman:
A two-month operation to clear poppy fields in Helmand province -- the world’s largest opium-producing region -- has begun.Now just see what patiently hunkering down in the duck blind can net you while editorialists, salaried opinion experts, members of Congress and national leaders hold forth on the meaning of the latest two-step from Karzai and Taliban.
But let us return to the news from Helmand; to continue with the report from the Scotsman:
Afghan enforcement teams have a 60-day window between early March and late April, dictated by growing patterns, in which to take action to eradicate crops in the war-torn province of Afghanistan.Any questions about Karzai's recent spate of seemingly irrational demands and Taliban's latest hissy fit?
The aim is to eliminate harvesting of the illegal crop from at least 2,000 hectares in the food zone around the Helmand valley.
The drive is being led by the province’s governor Gulab Mangal, aided by the work of Afghan security forces following years of fighting by coalition troops to secure swathes of land.
Major Ross Brown, head of eradication for the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s (PRT) counter-narcotics department, said Afghan teams from each district would use tractors and ploughs, provided by international funding, to target farms ranging from small holdings to large, organised crime operations.
They will face constant danger as many poppy producers use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - more commonly associated with the insurgency - to protect their crops.
Maj Brown said a carrot and stick approach was being used - almost literally.
Farmers who have been offered the opportunity and support to switch to growing carrots and wheat, but who have refused to take up the offer, will be targeted first.
Maj Brown said: “The long-term aim is to create a secure and stable food zone in the heart of Helmand.”
As to where I found the bunny -- oh, the same place I always find him.