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Mehdi Khalaji

Libitzky Family Fellow

Tel: 202-230-9550 (media inquiries only) 202-452-0650 (all other inquiries)
press@washingtoninstitute.org

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

Russia Uses an Iranian Air Base: Two Essays

August 17, 2016

The JCPOA and Iran's Internal Factional Battles

July 12, 2016

TWI Series on the JCPOA at One Year

July 6, 2016

Takfiris in Tehran: The Sectarian Face of Iranian Counterterrorism

June 24, 2016

Iran's Parliamentary Speaker Election Is No Step Forward for Rouhani

May 27, 2016

Iran's New Assembly Chair Shows Who Really Won the Elections

May 24, 2016

Khamenei Intensifies His Anti-Americanism to Weaken President Rouhani

March 21, 2016

Mashhad Appointments Show Tightened Hardliner Grip

March 14, 2016

What Does It Mean To Be a Reformist in Iran?

March 10, 2016

Reformists Apply the 'Lesser Evil' Theory to Iran's Elections

March 9, 2016

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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