As Violence Increases, Businesswoman Rangina Hamidi Leaves Kandahar For U.S. : The Two-Way Hamidi moved to Afghanistan seven years ago.  Since then, she has seen the Kandahar change dramatically.
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As Violence Increases, Businesswoman Rangina Hamidi Leaves Kandahar For U.S.

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As Violence Increases, Businesswoman Rangina Hamidi Leaves Kandahar For U.S.

As Violence Increases, Businesswoman Rangina Hamidi Leaves Kandahar For U.S.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

As we just heard, the U.S. military's plans for Kandahar are still evolving. But unlike the recent bloody battle for Marjah, the Kandahar operation aims to win over the local population more than the territory itself.

BLOCK: Afghan- American activist Rangina Hamidi. She grew up in the States and went back to Kandahar in 2003. She says many inside Kandahar are considering leaving because they have no idea what the summer will bring.

RANGINA HAMIDI: The fear of unknown of what is going to happen in the next month or two is really a driving force behind many people either wanting to get out or keeping a very low profile because they just want to be safe and sound.

BLOCK: What's your understanding of what is likely to happen, what the NATO mission will be?

HAMIDI: Then we heard, no, only operations in the districts and not in the city. And now, right before I left a couple days ago, there was talk that there might not be any operation. That they, you know, the NATO forces are planning a different strategy of working with civilians, with working with the government and correcting governmental institutions so as to win the hearts and minds of ordinary people. And by extension they will win, you know, this so-called war. But what is actually going to happen is still very unclear to not only to me, but to the majority of citizens in Kandahar.

BLOCK: On a daily basis, how would you say you see or experience the presence of the Taliban or other insurgent groups in Kandahar?

HAMIDI: I'm not saying that it's a permanent leave, but if we don't see a positive sign anytime soon, I might be having to make some difficult decisions about being there and working there.

BLOCK: Would it be your hope, Ms. Hamidi, that the NATO operation this summer could make things better, could reduce the impact of the insurgents in Kandahar and make it a place that you feel comfortable living again?

HAMIDI: I wish I could believe it that it could be successful. My heart and mind tells me, an operation will only create more animosity towards America and the international community. Innocent people are bound to be killed in it. And that is the propaganda that the Taliban have used from the beginning.

BLOCK: The U.S. military, though, has tried to alter the way it is conducting these operations. It was my understanding with trying to minimize any civilian casualties, conduct these operations in a different way. Does that give you any solace at all?

HAMIDI: But at the same time, it's very hard for me to believe that it will 100 percent collateral damage free. They can try, certainly, but I don't think it'll be 100 percent successful.

BLOCK: Rangina Hamidi, it's good to talk to you again. Thank you very much.

HAMIDI: Thank you very much for your time.

BLOCK: Afghan-American activist Rangina Hamidi lives in Kandahar. She runs a business that markets the embroidery of local Afghan women. It's called Kandahar treasure.

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