The Straits Times says

A deal to end Afghan terror havens

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War-wracked Afghanistan, the training ground for tens of thousands of terrorists from South-east Asia and other parts of the world for more than three decades, has entered a new phase of cautious hope with the signing of a historic deal between the United States and the Taleban last Saturday. In exchange for a conditional drawdown of US troops, the Taleban has promised to prevent the country from again becoming a haven for extremists by severing its long-running ties with groups like Al-Qaeda and abstaining from hosting, training, recruiting and raising funds for terrorists. The agreement also requires the Taleban to reach a lasting ceasefire and provides for it to begin power-sharing talks with the government.

If the Taleban keeps its word, the deal will end America's longest-fought war, which began when the US launched air strikes one month after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Troops were sent in when the Taleban refused to surrender 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. The US was joined by an international coalition that ended its combat mission in 2014. Singapore also sent 492 servicemen during a six-year deployment, the longest one overseas. The US, in the meantime, continued a smaller combat operation. The war exacted a steep toll, including US$2 trillion (S$2.8 trillion) to the exchequer. Nearly 3,500 members of the international coalition were killed, more than 2,300 of them American. The estimated loss on the Afghan side includes more than 32,000 civilians, 58,000 troops and 42,000 opposition combatants.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2020, with the headline A deal to end Afghan terror havens. Subscribe