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Mehdi Khalaji Named Inaugural Libitzky Family Fellow

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mehdi Khalaji, a world-renowned scholar of contemporary Iran and Shiite Islam, has been named the inaugural Libitzky Family Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the research organization announced today.

Made possible by the generosity of long-time Trustees Susan and Moses Libitzky, and the Libitzky Family Foundation, this multi-year pledge will enable Khalaji to continue his groundbreaking work on Iran and Shiite politics.

"We are thrilled by this leadership gift from the Libitzky family," said Dr. Robert Satloff, Institute Executive Director and the Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East Policy. "Through this fellowship, the Libitzkys ensure that one of the Institute’s leading experts will have a prominent and secure platform to help policymakers make informed decisions on how to advance U.S. interests in security and peace in the Middle East.”

“I am proud to be honored by the Libitzky family with this fellowship,” Khalaji says. “I have treasured my friendship with the Libitzky family who have been longstanding supporters of the Institute’s work.”

Khalaji is a Shiite theologian by training, and a widely published author and commentator on Iranian affairs. From 1986 to 2000, he trained in the seminaries of Qom, the traditional center of Iran's clerical establishment, where he studied Shiite theology and jurisprudence at the highest level, and researched modern intellectual and philosophical-political developments in Iran and the wider Islamic world. Khalaji launched a career in journalism in Iran and continued in Europe where he served as a radio producer and political analyst for the BBC as well as the U.S. government's Persian news service, Radio Farda. He joined the Institute when he arrived in the United States in 2005.

"At this critical moment in Iran’s engagement with the world -- and especially in U.S.-Iran relations -- Mehdi’s expertise is especially needed,” said Susan and Moses Libitzky. “We are delighted to have our family’s name attached to the fellowship of such an insightful policy expert.”

Institute Trustee Susan Libitzky is a marketing and public relations specialist who has worked with CBS television, the Jewish federations of San Francisco and Dallas, and other groups. She is actively involved in a variety of arts and cultural organizations. Moses Libitzky, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, is the principal owner of San Francisco-based Libitzky Property Companies. In addition to their professional responsibilities, the Libitzkys are deeply involved in community activities and serve on the boards of numerous nonprofit and charitable organizations.

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