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Mehdi Khalaji

Senior Fellow

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Mehdi Khalaji, a Qom-trained Shiite theologian, is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.

Areas of Expertise

Iran

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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 a senior 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

Tightening the Reins

How Khamenei Makes Decisions

April 9, 2014

Iran's Nuclear Debate: The Domestic Politics

February 26, 2014

Ayatollah Khamenei: Pessimistic Negotiator, Optimistic Strategist

February 21, 2014

Salafism as a National Security Threat for Iran

February 20, 2014

President Rouhani and the IRGC

January 8, 2014

Iran's Leaders Emphasize Limitations of the Nuclear Agreement

November 25, 2013

Iranian Consensus Does Not Necessarily Mean a Good Deal for the West

November 12, 2013

The Rise of Persian Salafism

October 3, 2013

Unexpected Iranian Dispute on Syria

September 4, 2013

Syria as a Spoiler in Iran's Foreign Policy

August 27, 2013

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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