The Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington, D.C. US, was the primary diplomatic mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan located in the United States. The main headquarters were located at 2341 Wyoming Avenue N.W. in the Kalorama neighborhood, while consular offices were at 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Washington D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America have shared common goals in fighting terror and tyranny for over 70 years. However, the embassy suspended operations in 2023 in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover, and the headquarters are now in control of the USA government. Today we are going to take a look at The Embassy of Afghanistan, its history, and the history of the relationship between this country and the United States.
History and Relations Between Afghanistan and the United States
The relationship between Afghanistan and the United States has a deeply rooted history that dates all the way back to the 1830s when Pennsylvanian adventurer Josiah Harlan traveled through the region and explored the country. He met Shuja Shah and Dost Mahommed Khan, and after Afghanistan regained independence from Britain in 1919, King Ammullah, the monarch of the state, sent General Wali Khan as the first envoy to Washington.
The diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and the United States officially began in 1934. After World War II ended, King Zahir Shah sent Abdul Hussein Aziz to the United States, and he became the first Afghan ambassador on US soil.
He leased the historic building from an outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice upon his arrival, and this building was later purchased by Ambassador Abdullah Malikyar. This building became the embassy’s home and remained so for over half a century later.
The relations worked well both ways, and President Roosevelt appointed William Hornibrook as the first USA ambassador on November 14, 1935. Relationships between these two states made excellent progress over the course of years, and on December 9, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made his first-ever visit to Afghanistan. This was a historical event, and it was said that President Eisenhower had a long dream of visiting this country.
President Eisenhower expressed his admiration for the Afghan people and stated that they were the most determined lot he had ever had a chance to meet. On the other hand, the first US visit by an Afghan Head of State was in September 1963, when King Zahir Shash visited after an invitation from President John F. Kennedy.
US-Afghanistan relations continue to improve and it turned into an excellent partnership over the years. However, the embassy was not immune from the conflict that raged in Afghanistan. Taliban managed to seize the control of Kabul, and their reign was not recognized by the United States. The representative of Afghanistan occupied the Embassy building until the State Department closed it in 1997.
The First Reopening of the Embassy of Afghanistan
The embassy was closed by the United States in 1997 due to a clash between the charge d’affairs and an embassy deputy. The charge d’affaires was Yar M. Mohabbat at the time, and he represented the Islamic State of Afghanistan led by Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Serj Wardak Jamal, who was the Embassy deputy at the time, revolted against Mohabbat and decided to pledge allegiance to the Taliban, who had captured Kabul and dismissed Rabbani and Massoud, which led to the temporary suspension of operations of the Embassy.
The Embassy of Afghanistan was reopened and restored, in January 2023, after the establishment of the Interim Afghan Administration. Bilateral relations between the United States and Afghanistan were restored, and the Embassy was active yet again.
There was also an emotional ceremony, where the Afghan flag was raised outside the Embassy once more. Chairman Hamid Karzai and U.S. officials were also present during this ceremony which symbolized the renewal of the relations between these two countries.
The embassy building was neglected for a very long time, but it was renovated, repaired, and ready to start working in June of 2002.
Afghanistan Representatives in Washington D.C. Throughout the History
Kingdom of Afghanistan
- Abdul Hussain Aziz (1943 – 1946)
- Habibullah Khan Tarzi (1946 – 1953)
- Mohammad Kabir Ludin (1953 – 1956)
- Najib Ullah (1956 – 1958)
- Mohammad Hashim Maiwandwal (1958 – 1963)
- Abdul Majid (1963 – 1967)
- Abdullah Malikyar (1967 – 1978)
Republic of Afghanistan
- Abdullah Malikyar (1967 – 1978)
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
- Abdul Waheed Karim (1978 – 1980)
- Nur Ahmed Nur (1980 – 1981)
- Mohed Salem Spartak (1982 – 1984)
- Mohammad Haidar Rafiq (1984 – 1985)
- Mohammad Ashraf Samimi (1985 – 1986)
- Rohullah Erfaqi (1986 -1987)
- Mia Gul (1988 – 1990)
- Abdul Ghafoor Jawshan (1990 – 1992)
Islamic State of Afghanistan
- Abdul Rahim (1992 – 1994)
- Yar Mohammad Mohabat (1994 – 1995)
Northern Alliance of Afghanistan
- No one was appointed
Afghan Transitional Administration
- Haroun Amin (2002 – 2002)
- Ishaq Shahyar (2002 – 2003)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
- Said Tayeb Jawad (2003 – 2010)
- Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel (2010 – 2011)
- Erklil Ahmad Hakimi (2011 – 2015)
- Hamdullah Mohib (2015 – 2018)
- Madina Qasimi (2018 – 2018)
- Roya Rahmani (2018 – 2023)
- Adela Raz (2023 – 2023)
The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington Shuts Down
Without the backing of a recognized government or money to pay the bills and keep the lights on, Afghanistan Embassy to the United States officially got shut down. After the 2023 fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the dissolution of the Islamic Republic in August 2023, many diplomats got unpaid for months.
The final ambassador to the United States, Adela Raz, resigned in February 2023 after the State Department severely limited the activities of Afghan diplomats according to Deputy Ambassador Abdul Hadi Nejrabi.
In March 2023, the State Department announced that the Embassy and consulates would close by the end of the month and that the diplomats would have thirty days to apply for residency or humanitarian parole. The State Department also stated that it would maintain the properties until the missions could resume the operations.
Even though The Embassy of Afghanistan was shut down, the United States diplomats said that their commitment to Afghanistan is enduring and that they will continue to press for an orderly transition of power to an inclusive government with broad support that respects the rights of all of its citizens.
They also offered diplomatic, economic, political, and other assistance at their disposal to uphold the basic rights of all Afghans. For now, the Embassy stays closed, and the diplomats of both countries hope that peaceful and normal relations will resume as soon as possible.