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Mehdi Khalaji

For Mehdi Khalaji's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Commentary / World Sep 15, 2012

Tehran's electoral strategy

Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have again hit a wall, but the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appears unconcerned. Indeed, Khamenei seems convinced that neither the United States nor Israel will attack its nuclear facilities — at least not before the U.S. presidential ...

Commentary / World May 14, 2012

The ayatollah contemplates a contradiction

The recent nuclear talks in Istanbul between the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, and Iran have shifted the world's focus to the possible terms of a deal when the sides meet again, probably in Baghdad on May 23. ...

Commentary / World Dec 3, 2011

Iran ups the stakes with West

As the West ratchets up its economic pressure on Iran to halt its alleged drive to develop nuclear weapons, the Islamic Republic's rulers are not sitting idly by. Since Iran lacks the soft power and the economic capacity to counter Western pressure, it is likely ...

Commentary / World Nov 5, 2011

The domestic logic behind Iran's foreign policy plots

The history of the Islamic Republic is filled with cases of factions exploiting foreign policy to gain power against their domestic rivals. It is common for competing groups to sacrifice national interests — such as Iran's international credibility — to achieve their own goals. During ...

Commentary / World Jun 6, 2011

Ahmadinejad tempts the wrath of Ayatollah

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has now made the mistake that all Iranian presidents make: He has challenged the authority of the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is doomed to fail. The challenge posed by Ahmadinejad is such a predictable part of Iranian politics that it ...

Commentary / World Dec 23, 2010

Power struggle in Tehran

WASHINGTON — Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has never been happy about the status of the Iranian presidency — neither during his own tenure, from 1981-1989, nor during the terms of his three successors. Tension between the president and the supreme leader is built ...

Commentary / World Jan 21, 2010

The Iranian republic of fear

WASHINGTON — Iran's clerical regime governs by a simple formula: He who is the most frightening wins. "Victory by terrifying" is a trope that is present in many of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speeches. Indeed, it is a reliable guide to his political ...

Commentary / World Mar 19, 2009

Iran's muddled presidential politics

WASHINGTON — The decision by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami not to seek the presidency again has revealed how muddled Iranian presidential politics now is. In trying to sort out this muddle, the most important thing to keep in mind is not so much ...

Commentary / World Oct 31, 2006

The antitheocracy of Iran

WASHINGTON -- Iran's theocratic regime appears more confident than ever. Its standoff with the West over its nuclear program, together with its ties to Syria and its growing influence in Lebanon and Iraq, suggest the emergence of a strong regional power. But while Western ...