A senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, said Monday he was denied entry into Afghanistan because of his criticisms of the Karzai administration.
Apparently, [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai just goes bananas every time he hears that I might be, in some way, coming into his country, Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said as he waited for a flight back to the United States, Politico reported. He was denied a visa and was prevented from boarding a flight to Afghanistan from Dubai.
Rohrabahcer recently opened up a House investigation into Karzai and his administration, looking into claims of rampant corruption. Rohrabahcer believes that was also part of the reason why he is being denied entry into Afghanistan.
Afghan officials also said the congressman was barred from the country because he suggested a decentralized form of government to Afghan politicians. The Karzai administration views his opinions as interference with Afghanistan's internal affairs, reported BBC.
When Karzai found out Dana was a part of the CODEL [congressional delegation], he told the State Dept. the entire CODEL would be denied if Rohrabacher was included, Rohrabacher spokesman Tara Olivia Setmayer told Politico.
Rohrabacher said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally relayed Karzai's message to him. She told him not to join the delegation due to the rising tensions between the United States and Afghanistan, especially since the accidental burning of the Koran by several U.S. soldiers and Sgt. Robert Bales' alleged slaughter of Afghan civilians.
She has some things she's trying to accomplish and this might really jeopardize some of the efforts that she's been making and would I consider not going, he said. I was not in any way trying to hinder her job and I went out of my way to make sure that that was evident.
The California Republican was part of a delegation of United States officials visiting Afghanistan, let by Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas. Rohrabacher took the seat of a colleague who was unable to make the trip at the last minute. The six-person delegation planned to meet with leaders of the Northern Alliance, the group that fought alongside the U.S. to overthrow the Taliban 10 years ago. When Karzai found Rohrabacher was coming into his country, he was prepared to deny the entire delegation entry.
Clinton said it would cause a mini crisis if Rohbracher protested, reported the Washington Post.
She was making a reasonable request, said Rohrabacher, reported the Washington Post.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a statement regarding the incident.
We understand that members of the U.S. Congress had a private meeting with former Northern Alliance political figures on April 22 in Kabul, the statement said, according to U.S. News and World Report. U.S. Embassy Kabul neither arranged nor participated in these meetings. The members of Congress do not represent the State Department or any other part of the executive branch. Their presence and views at this privately arranged event do not reflect the view of the president or the administration.
Rohbracher said he had a productive time in Dubai, but he wants the United States to stop wasting its time, money and resources on a country that is unwilling to change its government structure.
I don't think that we should waste the life of any more American troops in trying to solve the problems of Afghanistan, he said.
On the hand, Rohbracher, who has been involved in Afghan affairs since the 1980s war, said that under Karzai, Afghanistan risks another takeover from the Taliban once U.S. troops withdraw.
They have a structure of government that leads to incompetence and corruption. When we leave, the Taliban will end up in power and will hunt down all the people that helped to defeat them after Sept. 11.