This April, College of the Canyons professor, activist and scholar Dr. Ali Akbar Mahdi will present a sociological analysis United States’ history in the Middle East, during the spring 2013 Scholarly Presentation “The U.S. in the Middle East: A Century of Friendship and Hostility,” on April 17, at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, April 17 at 6 p.m.
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Mahdi will begin with a geographical explanation of the region, as well a brief overview of the United States’ historical background with several key Middle Eastern nations, including Iran, Iraq and Israel.
“The United States has been involved in the Middle East since the late 19th century,” said Mahdi. “Whether it be establishing a military footing in the region, attempting to engineer social change or simply securing an interest in the region’s vast oil reserves, the U.S. has had longstanding interests in maintaining its influence in this part of the world.”
Mahdi will also discuss several of the most current and politically relevant issues facing the United States in the region today, including the claims of other nations that U.S. foreign policy is contradictory in some areas.
“The Middle East is a diverse region in which our continued interests face serious challenges as we approach countries with different traditions, cultures and national interests,” Mahdi said. “Our policies and relationships in the Middle East have often appeared contradictory, and as a result the U.S. is sometimes viewed as hypocritical.”
Other topics include the Iranian nuclear program, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamic extremists and jihadist groups, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. response to Arab Spring and current challenges in countries like Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain.
“It is clear that the United States has had to deal with numerous regional crises, contradictory demands from allies, and difficult challenges from forces opposed to our presence in the region,” Mahdi said. “As a result, the U.S. engagement in the Middle East has become much more tasking than ever imagined. So today we find ourselves in a very difficult situation.”
Mahdi is a critical sociologist specializing in the political economy of change, gender and development in the Middle East. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the National University of Iran, in Tehran and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Sociology from Michigan State University.
In addition to teaching at College of the Canyons, Mahdi is an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Northridge and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University. He has also taught at Michigan State University, Adrian College, and Central State University.
Seating is first come first served and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Attendees can park for free in college lots 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, located off Rockwell Canyon Road adjacent to the PAC.
For more information about the College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “The U.S. in the Middle East: A Century of Friendship and Hostility,” contact the COC Foundation at 661-362-3434.
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- Article: COC Professor To Discuss Middle East Relations During Scholarly Presentation 
- Source: Santa Clarita News 
- Author: Allison Pari