MP who served in Afghanistan calls situation a 'foreign policy disaster'

Clive Lewis Afghan patrol.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis served in Afghanistan for three months with the territorial army - Credit: Sgt Dan Harmer

The growing chaos in Afghanistan has been labelled a "foreign policy disaster" by a Norfolk MP who once served in the Middle Eastern nation. 

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, called the spiralling situation "a humiliation" for the Western world.

Afghanistan has been overrun by the Taliban in the weeks following the United States' withdrawal - 20 years after the military campaign initially began. 

Taliban fighters stand guard on the road to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghan

Taliban fighters stand guard on the road to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan - Credit: AP

The Islamist group did not face any opposition as they swept into capital city Kabul over the weekend and took the presidential palace. 

Mr Lewis, a former territorial army officer, was in Afghanistan for a three-month tour and suffered from depression upon his return.

He slammed the West's handling of the saga and said service personnel would be demanding answers. 

"This is a humiliation - a foreign policy disaster," added Mr Lewis.

MP for Norwich (South) Clive Lewis at the Fridays for Future climate protest on the steps of city ha

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis served in Afghanistan for three months with the territorial army - Credit: Archant

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"It is arguably one of the biggest recent catastrophes in how the West projects itself in this part of the world.

"Intervention has cost trillions of pounds and an immense number of lives both from our country and others. In that sense it is a big defeat and a big failure. 

"As someone who was over there when people were being killed and mauled to death, I know people will be asking - as I am - what was it for? And no-one has an answer for them."

With a humanitarian crisis looming, critics have highlighted the government's recent decision to cut foreign aid - which coincided exactly with the final troops pulling out.

Clive Lewis Afghan patrol.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis on patrol in Helmand during his tour of Afghanistan - Credit: Submitted

It is estimated that bilateral aid from the UK to Afghanistan was slashed by 78pc for 2021/22 compared to last year. 

Mr Lewis emphasised that helping those seeking refuge must be an immediate priority. 

"I think the UK needs to massively increase its aid budget for not just Afghanistan, but to wherever possible," he said.

"It is quite clear there is going to be a considerable humanitarian disaster in some of the surrounding countries. Many people will be heading to refugee camps in countries which are already very poor. 

"We should be upping our support for these areas, upping our aid budget - and looking to see where we can learn from mistakes of the past."

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