Hamoud Salhi: Expert Provides International Perspective on Middle Eastern and American Policies
Last fall, Hamoud Salhi, assistant professor of political science, helped present forums and discussions on the race to the White House between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to students at California State University, Dominguez Hills. This spring, the renowned expert on Middle East relations discussed the presidential elections that took place in April in his native Algeria with BBC Africa. Salhi, who is a regular political commentator for Algeria National Television and a columnist for the Algerian newspaper Ech-Chaab, says that this year’s election was “controversial” due to the removal by the nation’s parliament of the two-term limit that enabled President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third term.
“In order to amend the constitution, you have to have a popular referendum,” says Salhi. “But the parliament did it, so that’s the first controversy. The second controversy was the opposition. The main parties didn’t show up so it sort of delegitimized the process. The third thing was the fear of [reactionary] terrorism. It’s cooled down since 1992, but Algeria has lost 200,000 people to terrorism.”
Salhi says that President Obama’s familial associations with Islam have earned him “the benefit of the doubt” in the historically contentious dealings of an American president with the Middle East.
“Obama made it easier, looking at Islam from a different perspective,” Salhi notes. “During the Bush era, I was on television on Algeria in 2004. The first question I was asked was why did the Americans, who believe in freedom, elect Bush for a second time. Now, they don’t ask negative questions, but constructive ones. This time around, people are asking more about ‘What can we do to help Obama help us solve our problems?’ There is more deep, well-thought out analysis of the American system.”
Salhi’s most recent English publication is as a contributing author of “The Forum: Who Controls the Internet: Beyond the Obstinacy or Obsolescence of the State,” (Johan Erikksson and Giampiero Giacomello, eds.) which appeared in the March issue of International Studies Review. In it, Salhi and colleagues from the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe examine the need to move beyond a U.S.-centered perspective of the Internet and whether its global diffusion weakens or strengthens the state’s control of society.
In May, Salhi, an expert on international relations and American foreign policy, participated in a conference on identity, media and development sponsored by Algeria National Television and the University of Batna. The conference was attended by the university’s students and faculty and officials from the Algerian government. The mission of the conference was to find ways to best promote Algeria’s national development and identity. A member of councils at both the University of Batna and the Strategic Center, a think tank in Algiers, Salhi was recognized by the Minister of Mass Communication, the president of the University of Batna, and the Association of the National Students Organization for his intellectual contributions to the media and academia in Algeria and the Middle East.
Salhi, who arrived in the United States as a graduate student in the 1980s to study at the University of Southern California, says that his connections to his home country, as well as his perspectives as an Algerian American, have served him well as a foreign correspondent.
“People [abroad] are very interested in the United States,” he says. “They know a lot more than we know about United States foreign policy, so they are constantly checking the news and want other perspectives.”
Salhi began his career at Dominguez Hills as a lecturer in 1989 and has taught here regularly over the last 20 years. Currently he advises the Dominguez Hills Association of Political Science Students (APSS) and teaches a Model United Nations class. He says that his experiences as a journalist have enhanced his teaching career.
“[Working with] the media helps keep me updated on what’s happening,” he says. “Anybody else teaching political science... is required to read the paper everyday. I’m required to read the paper everyday and express my opinion.”
Salhi is currently working on a paper titled, “Developing Relationships Between Democracy and Terrorism.” He is also working on a project on Muslim Americans and their contributions to American culture. This fall, he will be featured in a documentary by Algeria National Television that highlights nine successful Algerian Americans.
- Joanie Harmon