Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) was refused a visa and prevented from boarding a flight in Dubai to Afghanistan on Friday, Afghan officials said. Rohrabacher has been critical of corruption in President Hamid Karzai’s government and has openly called for a more decentralized government in Afghanistan, which, according to the BBC, led Karzai to request that Rohrabacher be denied entry into the country:
Afghan officials told the BBC that in addition to his criticisms of the president, Mr Rohrabacher was being shunned because of meetings he had held in Berlin with Afghan politicians about the creation of a decentralised form of government.
According to our correspondent, Afghan officials view that as tantamount to interference in the country’s internal affairs.
“Anyone who speaks against the good of Afghanistan and tries to interfere in our internal affairs is ineligible for an Afghan visa,” one official told our correspondent.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relayed Karzai’s message to Rohrabacher who, according to his spokesperson, obliged “out of respect.”
According to the Guardian, Rohrabacher “has been in discussion with Afghan leaders for several months about a less centralised form of government” and Afghan government officials in January criticized Rohrabacher for meeting with Afghan opposition leaders in Berlin.
According to a State Department cable released by Wikileaks, Rohrabacher as early as 2003 pushed Karzai to incorporate more warlords into his government, telling the Afghan president that he preferred “a federalist decentralization of power.” The Guardian reports that Rohrabacher “became personal friends with many of the commanders” fighting the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Last June, Iraqi government officials kicked Rohrabacher out of Iraq after the Californian Republican said Iraq should repay the United States for the war President Bush started there in 2003. While members of his own party criticized him for the remarks, Rohrabacher remained unapologetic. “There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that the people who have benefited from our benevolence should consider repaying us for what we have given them,” he said.
With the NATO summit coming up next month in Chicago largely focusing on Afghanistan, one senior diplomat in Kabul said of the newest Rohrabacher incident: “This doesn’t look great.”