WASHINGTON -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai may not be able to silence his critics in Washington, but he can stop them from entering his country. On Friday, Karzai barred Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) from traveling to Afghanistan with his fellow congressmen. Rohrabacher, a longtime critic of Karzai, called the move a "pretty desperate" attempt to prevent his views from being aired in front of the Afghan people.
"The nature of his own regime is corrupt and he doesn't want anyone to be able to say it," Rohrabacher told The Huffington Post from Qatar, where he was awaiting a flight back to the United States on Monday.
Rohrabacher was scheduled to visit Afghanistan as part of a congressional delegation, which he joined at the last minute when another member of Congress dropped out. But according to Tara Setmayer, Rohrabacher's communications director, Karzai threatened to bar the entire group if the California Republican attempted to make the trip.
"[Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton personally relayed Karzai's message and personally petitioned Dana not to continue on with the delegation. Out of respect, he obliged and stayed behind in Dubai. This took place on Friday," said Setmayer.
Rohrabacher put his attacks on Karzai into action last month, calling for an investigation into the finances of the Karzai family. He told The Huffington Post on Monday that he would continue that push when he returned to Washington.
In addition to his accusations of corruption, Rohrabacher said Karzai was also "claiming that I want to tear the country apart." Rohrabacher has advocated removing some power from the central government in Afghanistan, which he claims is "overly centralized" and "contrary to that country's culture."
But Rohrabacher also blamed unnamed American politicians for the problems of the Karzai regime, saying that the Afghan president has been given too long of a leash in Washington."What this reflects is that there's been too many of our own leaders who should have been serious and definitive with Karzai," he said. "Our own political leaders here in the United States have been walking on eggshells instead of forcing people to look at the hard truth in Afghanistan and they don't want to enrage Karzai."