Mehdi Khalaji is an Iranian-American  writer and  scholar of  Shiite Islam and Iranian politics

Khalaji2015hiresSince 2005, Mehdi Khalaji is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, focusing on Iranian politics as well as the politics of 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.

Expertise: Iran, Islamic philosophy and culture, Shiite law and theology, Western philosophy

Current Research: Shiite politics in the Middle East; the role of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Iran’s foreign policy decisionmaking process

Languages: Persian (native), Arabic, French, English

Selected Outside Publications:
*Natani (a novel in Persian) (Berlin: Gardoon, 2004)
*Intellectual Currents in Arab World (Tehran, 2000)
*M. Arkoun, and His Ideas (Tehran, 1998)

see Mehdi Khalaji’s bio in Washington Instittute’s website