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World-Renowned Iran Expert Mehdi Khalaji to Rejoin Institute


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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mehdi Khalaji, a world-renowned scholar of contemporary Iran, is rejoining The Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a senior fellow, the research organization announced today.

Khalaji first joined the Institute in 2005 and focused his research on the politics of Iran and Shiite groups in the Middle East. He has written numerous monographs and articles for the Institute, most recently How Iranians Might React to a Nuclear Deal, which he co-authored with Institute Research Director Dr. Patrick Clawson. Khalaji is returning to the Institute after suspending the operations of the Idea Center for Arts and Culture which he founded earlier this year. 

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.

"At this moment of uncertainty about Iran’s leadership and strategic direction, Mehdi Khalaji will be an invaluable resource to the policy community,” said Institute Executive Director Dr. Robert Satloff. “We are delighted to welcome him back to The Washington Institute."

From 1986 to 2000, Mr. Khalaji trained in the seminaries of Qom, the traditional center of Iran's clerical establishment, where 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.

About the Institute: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is an independent, nonpartisan research institution that advances a balanced and realistic understanding of U.S. interests in the broader Middle East. Drawing on the expertise of its fellows, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

Contact: Brittany Parker, media liaison, email, 202-452-0650