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Mehdi Khalaji

Libitzky Family Fellow

Tel: 202-230-9550 (media inquiries only) 202-452-0650 (all other inquiries)

Mehdi Khalaji, a Qom-trained Shiite theologian, is the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute.

Areas of Expertise

Iran, Arab and Islamic Politics

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Current Research

Shiite politics in the Middle East; the role of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Iran's foreign policy decisionmaking process

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Mehdi Khalaji is the Libitzky Family fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on the politics of Iran and Shiite groups in the Middle East. A Shiite theologian by training, Mr. Khalaji has also served on the editorial boards of two prominent Iranian periodicals and produced for the BBC as well as the U.S. government's Persian news service.

From 1986 to 2000, Mr. Khalaji trained in the seminaries of Qom, the traditional center of Iran's clerical establishment. There he studied theology and jurisprudence, earning a doctorate and researching widely on modern intellectual and philosophical-political developments in Iran and the wider Islamic and Western worlds. In Qom, and later in Tehran, Mr. Khalaji launched a career in journalism, first serving on the editorial board of a theological journal, Naqd va Nazar, and then the daily Entekhab. In addition to his own writing, he has translated the works of the humanist Islamic scholar Muhammad Arkoun.

In 2000, Mr. Khalaji moved Paris where he studied Shiite theology and exegesis in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. He also worked for BBC Persian as a political analyst on Iranian affairs, eventually becoming a broadcaster for the Prague-based Radio Farda, the Persian-language service of the U.S. government's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. At Radio Farda, he produced news, features, and analysis on a range of Middle Eastern, Iranian, and Islamic issues.

Mr. Khalaji writes a bilingual English and Persian blog,

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Languages Spoken / Read

  • Arabic
  • French
  • Persian

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Supreme Succession:

February 8, 2012

Policy Focus

Apocalyptic Politics:

January 1, 2008

Policy Focus

Through the Veil:

April 25, 2007

Policy Focus

The Last Marja:

September 10, 2006

Policy Focus

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Most Recent Analysis

Great Expectations: Iran After the Deal

November 9, 2015

A Deal Among Enemies

October 16, 2015

Iran's Majlis Unlikely to Settle Internal Dispute on the Nuclear Deal

October 2, 2015

Becoming Anti-American

August 24, 2015

Iranian Moderates Face Tall Obstacles in 2016 Elections

August 19, 2015

Why Khamenei's Official Approval of the Nuclear Deal Matters

August 17, 2015

Iran's Shifting Nuclear Narratives

August 12, 2015

Iran's Security Concerns and Legal Controversies Over the Nuclear Deal

August 5, 2015

Khamenei vs. Rouhani: Projecting Very Different Views on the Nuclear Deal

July 16, 2015

The Nuclear Deal May Weaken Rouhani

July 14, 2015

See all analysis by this author

Selected Outside Publications

The New Order of the Clerical Establishment in Iran (Buchum, Germany: Aida Book, 2010)

Natani (a novel in Persian) (Berlin: Gardoon, 2004)

Intellectual Currents in Arab World (Tehran, 2000)

M. Arkoun, and His Ideas (Tehran, 1998)

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