Mehdi Khalaji

Senior Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Mehdi Khalaji, a native of Iran, spent 14 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 the Kian and Naqd va Nazar magazines 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 Shia 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 The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, as well as various scholarly journals and the encyclopedia Iranica. He also hosts a bilingual English and Persian website,

The Islamic Republic at 40: Succession and Direction after Khamenei

As the Islamic Republic commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime is facing considerable internal and external challenges.