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Mehdi Khalaji

Libitzky Family Fellow

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

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, MehdiKhalaji.com.

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Languages Spoken / Read

  • Arabic
  • French
  • Persian

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Publications

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

Khamenei's Nuclear Instructions: Public Versus Private

May 26, 2015

No Voice of Reconciliation: Khamenei Targets the West

May 21, 2015

Yemen War Heats Up Iran's Anti-Saudi Rhetoric

May 18, 2015

Iran Won't Give Up on Its Revolution

April 26, 2015

The Classic Blood Libel Against Jews Goes Mainstream in Iran

April 21, 2015

Khamenei Warns That Nuclear Deal May Fall Apart

April 9, 2015

How the Framework Is Playing Inside Iran

April 8, 2015

Iranians Debate: What Next with the United States?

April 6, 2015

Khamenei's Silence: Iranian Reactions to the Nuclear Framework

April 3, 2015

Iran's Internal Messaging on the Nuclear Talks

April 1, 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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