By Jeremy Herb
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) fired the latest shot Wednesday in his feud with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, accusing Karzai’s family of corruption with the Chinese over an oil deal in Afghanistan.
Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight subcommittee, said in a statement he plans to hold hearings on an oil contract obtained by the Watan Group, which is tied to Karzai’s family, and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
“This is not just another example of President Karzai exercising dictatorial power to enrich his family,” Rohrabacher said. “It is an example of his growing alignment with Pakistan and China.”
Karzai responded by denying Rohrabacher a visa to enter Afghanistan earlier this year, where he said that Rohrabacher was banned “until he shows respect.”
Karzai says that the oil contract awarded to the Watan Group and the CNPC was legitimate, and he issued a statement that said the American and British ambassadors met with Karzai, reviewed the contract and agreed it was fair and transparent.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan told the New York Times, “We have no problems with the characterizations in the news release and we have nothing more to add.”
But Rohrabacher sees things differently. He sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month asking why the United States was still in Afghanistan when the Karzai government was helping China.
Rohrabacher said Wednesday he is going to investigate and hold hearings on the oil deal, accusing Karzai of “ordering his Minister of Mines to sign the China contract” with Karzai’s family company.
— Carlo Munoz contributed.