It was 4,466 miles from Marakech, Morocco, to Oklahoma City, with a long layover in Arkansas. And it was here that he became an expert on Middle Eastern and North African politics – a region that includes his homeland.
Dr. Mohamed Daadaoui made the long journey from Morocco to the states specifically for graduate studies. He spent some time at the University of Arkansas’ King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies. After that, it was off to the University of Oklahoma, where he obtained his Ph.D. in political science. He’s now putting that education to work as an assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma City University.
“When I came into the field, there was not as much interest, academically, in North Africa. I wanted to fill a void in the scholarship on that region,” says Daadaoui. “I’m also Moroccan. I’m interested in my own backyard. I’m interested in my own neighborhood, my country and the surrounding countries.”
He chose well. Now his area of expertise covers some of the hottest conflict spots on the globe. And he’s one of the few authorities on them. While Daadaoui doesn’t have a crystal ball, he does have some interesting opinions about the uprisings taking place in North Africa.
On Libya and Gadhafi: “We’re probably going to see a prolonged conflict between the rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces. I don’t think the rebels have the military capability to make a final push toward Tripoli and topple the regime without the help of the international community. I don’t think Gadhafi will cede any control of power and leave, partly because he’s not well liked, even in the region. There’s no safe haven option for him. He and his sons will fight, by their own admission, until their last drops of blood are shed.”
On Egypt and its designation as the Facebook Revolution: “Social media has radically changed how people can level protests and grievances against their regimes. In the Middle East we learned with the Egyptian case and the Tunisian case and the Libyan case, as well as Bahrain and Yemen – you name it in the Middle East – that everything has been organized largely by the use of social media. It serves as an important platform for the protestors to organize dissent against their own regimes. It’s been a lethal but peaceful weapon against these regimes. We’re looking at a technological revolution that can be utilized in a good way to bring about changes and reforms, democratic transformations that are needed in these political systems.”
Daadaoui’s new book, Moroccan Monarchy and the Islamist Challenge, addresses the Moroccan monarchy’s ability to resist challenges to its legitimacy over the years. It hits shelves in August.
It’s been a long journey for him, but Daadaoui couldn’t be happier about where he landed.
“Oklahoma City University allows us to branch out and do whatever it takes to enhance and improve our own academic development,” he says. “It’s a great place to work.”