‘Totally false!’ BBC Question Time spat erupts as US guest dismantled in Joe Biden row

Afghanistan: Rory Stewart clashes with Question Time panelist

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Rory Stewart and Mehdi Hasan furiously clashed on the BBC’s Question Time after Mr Hasan accused Western governments of “lying” to the world after thousands of lives were lost during the Afghanistan campaign. He suggested there should not be an “endless war” in the region as he supported western forces eventually leaving the region but not in the “horrific way” it has been carried out over the past few years. Mr Stewart was perplexed at Mr Hasan’s assessment of Afghanistan as he pointed out the situation on the ground was much calmer than he was making out before the two men began shouting over each other.

Speaking on Question Time, Mr Hasan said over the past 20 years the US-UK Governments “lied” to everyone by saying the situation in Afghanistan was being resolved and that they were “turning a corner”. 

He pointed out the thousands of people who lost their lives and questioned whether Western involvement in the country actually worked. 

He said: “At what point do we say enough is enough, we have to end this, even if it’s done, and I think it was done in a horrific way, but it has to end. 

“We cannot have an endless war and do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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Mr Stewart, who has worked and lived in Kabul for several years, told Mr Hasan: “You’re massively misrepresenting the situation, combat operations finished in 2014. 

“You’re living in the past, there have been very few US or UK casualties and this is one of the problems of the line that Biden is selling.

“Since 2014, we were conducting air operations from bases in support of the Afghan national army.

“There was no significant pressure against our forces on the ground, they were never tested.

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“So this line that Biden is selling and that you’re trying to sell, that we were still stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war and had no alternative other than to leave is totally false.

“Millions of Afghans [have seen] their lives improving over the last few years, you’re much too pessimistic.”

Mr Stewart asked whether Mr Hasan had been in Kabul recently and pointed out he has seen a dramatic change between Afghans 20 years ago and now.  

Mr Hasan has attacked the Trump administration for agreeing to leave Afghanistan near enough unconditionally and says most of the American political right will seek to capitalise on the refugee crisis to stir up xenophobia. 

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Mr Stewart has called the Afghanistan withdrawal the “biggest betrayal since World War 2” and said many key players in the country were unaware of the important role they played, no matter how small. 

The former politician also attacked President Joe Biden for following through on Donald Trump’s agreement in 2020. 

During an interview with LBC, Mr Stewart said: “It’s very very sad for Britain because it suggests that we’ve lost the capacity to really think independently of the US.”

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