Areas of ExpertiseIran, Arab and Islamic Politics
Shiite politics in the Middle East; the role of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Iran's foreign policy decisionmaking process
Mehdi Khalaji, a native of Iran, spent fourteen years in Qom’s seminaries studying Islamic principles and jurisprudence under the direction of Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri and later Ayatollah Hussein Vahid Khorassani. While in Iran, he wrote and translated pieces for Kian and Naqd va Nazar magazine as well as the newspapers Jameh and Entekhab, where he also served as an editor. In addition, he taught philosophy at the University of Qom.
He left Iran in 2000 and moved to Paris, where he studied Shiite theology and exegesis at the Sorbonne’s Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and then worked for two years as a political analyst for BBC Persian. He moved to Prague in 2002 to serve as a producer for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Persian-language programming and later for Radio Farda.
Since 2005, Khalaji has been a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. His articles and analysis appear in outlets such as New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, as well as various scholarly journals and the encyclopedia Iranica. He also hosts a bilingual English and Persian website, MehdiKhalaji.com.
In addition to his Institute publications, Dr. Khalaji has written or translated the following titles:
- The Arab’s Conscience by Borhan Ghalion, translation from Arabic-Persian, (Qom: Naqd-o-Nazar, 1998)
- Disincarnated (novel), (Berlin: Gardoon, 2004)
- The New Order of Clergy, (Bochum: Ida, 2013)
- Innovation, Interdiction and Interpretation, Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid, translation from Arabic-Persian, (Washington DC: Tavaana, 2014)
- From Ijtihad to Critique of Islamic Reason, Mohammed Arkoun, translation from French-Persian, (Washington DC: Tavaana, 2015)
- Men in Dark Time, Hannah Arendt, translation from English-Persian, (Washington DC: Tavaana, 2016)
- Clergy, Sharia and State, (Toronto: Pegah, 2018)
- Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, Susan Neiman, translation from English-Persian, (Washington DC: Idea Center for Arts and Culture, 2019) .
Languages Spoken / Read
September 15, 2011
January 1, 2008
Most Recent Analysis
May 23, 2019
May 21, 2019
May 2, 2019
November 15, 2018
November 2, 2018
October 29, 2018
October 24, 2018
September 28, 2018
September 25, 2018
August 15, 2018
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)