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CNN "THE SITUATION ROOM" INTERVIEW WITH SAID JAWAD,

AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.

 

BLITZER: There's been a shake-up at the Afghan embassy here in Washington, D.C., where the Afghan ambassador suddenly has been ordered to vacate his post amid a controversy swirling back home. Ambassador Said Jawad is here in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about what's going on.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in. I assume you're still the ambassador right now, but they've told you it's over. Why?

SAID JAWAD, FORMER AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, at first, I probably served as ambassador for the past seven years where we established the embassy from the ground-up, and I'm very thankful for the support I've received from friends here, particularly, to make this happen. Seven years is a long time to serve as ambassador.

So my term is going to be ending by September 22. Usually the term of the ambassadors are between three to five years, so it's fairly normal for the ambassadors to end their term at some point.

BLITZER: But there's been -- there's been some controversy, because this is a sudden shock to a lot of people, and many U.S. officials were telling me they were shocked to hear this, as well. They say it raises questions about President Hamid Karzai. What's going on over there?

JAWAD; I was not given an explanation about the reason of the end of my term, but basically, as I mentioned, seven years is a long time, and I did expect at some point to leave this job.

BLITZER: Did they give you advanced warning that this was happening, that this was -- your tour of duty would be over? Or did they suddenly just say it's over?

JAWAD: No, they've asked me to come back to Afghanistan to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that my tour of duty will be over by September 22.

BLITZER: They just told you that. Let me read to you from "The Washington Post" story about your leaving. Karzai has made a series of hasty firings in the past few months. Last week, he dismissed a deputy attorney general who had been involved in corruption investigations of government officials. In June Karzai abruptly fired the interior minister, Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh. And what some U.S. officials are saying to me is he seems, President Karzai, to be behaving somewhat bizarrely right now, that they're surprised by what he's doing.

JAWAD: Well, I report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that the authority that, Wolf, actually is in charge of appointment and removal of the ambassador is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but as far as the dismissal of some very, very qualified officials in Afghanistan, I really cannot comment. They were in a different situation and different condition.

But as I mentioned, I had the privilege, actually, of serving Afghanistan and being the face of a new Afghanistan and here establishing the embassy from ground up and making it one of the most successful embassies of Afghanistan abroad.

BLITZER: And then they tell you to go home. Here's another quote from the article in "The Washington Post." I want you to respond to this. "Jawad" -- that's you -- "has been the subject of what he called a smear campaign in Afghanistan over the past few weeks. Several Afghan Web sites published photographs that purported to show people consuming alcohol, and women dancing in sleeveless dresses at an embassy party to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan."

You've seen all those accusations. You know that Muslim women are not to drink alcohol and certainly women are not supposed to be sleeveless. What do you say about those smears that were leveled against you back in Afghanistan?

JAWAD: First, these completely false allegations and doctored pictures that portrayed as if there was an event at the embassy of Afghanistan on the second day of the holy month of Ramadan, while I was in Colombia and Brazil during that time. We never had an event at the embassy. The pictures were doctored. This was a smear.

BLITZER: So who is out to get you, like that's spreading these rumors and these smears?

JAWAD: A few hard-working, ethical Afghan that are in the Afghan government are subjected to a broad campaign smear both by the opportunistic inside the government, and the fanatics outside the government. So there's a war in Afghanistan, so they use disinformation and misinformation and propaganda in different ways.

But at the same time, we have hundreds and thousands of messages of support for what you have accomplished, what you have done in here, so we've been here for a long time. People know what we stand for.

BLITZER: Will you go back to Kabul, Afghanistan, right now to serve in the foreign ministry?

JAWAD: I will serve Afghanistan, certainly. I'm not a career diplomat. I joined the government from the private sector to for a vision of building a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan. I will continue to work with that vision, but if it is outside the government or inside government, I have not decided yet. But I have never been a part of the government for a long time. My past is private sector.

BLITZER: Some reports are saying you're going to stay here in the United States?

JAWAD: Yes, I will stay here for transition, because my family lives here and my son is going to school. So for a short time, I'll be here, and then I'll make the decision.

BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, we wish you only the best. We wish, of course, the people of Afghanistan only the best. We hope that there is peace and security and democracy in Afghanistan one day.

JAWAD: Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

BLITZER: Said Jawad is the outgoing Afghan ambassador to the United States.

  • http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1009/01/sitroom.02.html

 

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