All posts by Rowena Razak

Rowena holds a BA in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies and an MA in Middle East & Mediterranean Studies from King's College London. She is currently a DPhil candidate in Oriental Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford.

Ramadan & Eid, Malaysian Style

Malaysia has an interesting time during Ramadan. With the general feeling of festivity, there is another side to it all. Ramadan, a month of charity, abstinence, reflection, and religious deeds, is also a month of overspending, wastage, shortages, and road accidents.


muslim boy praying ramadan


Hari Raya, literally ‘Day of Celebration’, is in a few days’ time. There is a growing feeling of festivity in the air here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Shopping malls, restaurants and even the local kiosks are playing traditional songs on a loop, ready to usher in the coming Eid-ul-Fitr and the end of the fasting month, Ramadan. Everything is decorated in the ubiquitous green banners and Eid lamps. The television is playing local shows and corporate-sponsored tear-jerking advertisements reminding us of the goodness of Eid. People are starting to travel to their hometowns in other parts of the country, leaving the capital quiet and exhausted from the month of fasting.

Muslim homes are stocking up on drinks, food and biscuits, also known as kuih, for the beginning of the new Islamic month, Syawal. My own kitchen is stacked with plastic boxes of biscuits, sourced from markets, shops and friends. My grandmother has spent the last week cooking dishes for the day (my duty was to stir only when necessary), ensuring that everything is ready for our yearly ‘Open House’, a Malaysian tradition where we literally open our doors to family, friends, and neighbours, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Crisp Ringgit Malaysia notes, issued especially by the Central Bank of Malaysia for this occasion have been put in colourful envelopes ready to be distributed to younger, usually unmarried, family members and friends. The days up to Eid has always been for me, personally, an exciting time.

Malaysia has an interesting time during Ramadan. With the general feeling of festivity, there is another side to it all. Ramadan, a month of charity, abstinence, reflection, and religious deeds, is also a month of overspending, wastage, shortages, and road accidents. A nation that loves to eat, food bazaars, enjoyed by everyone regardless of religious affiliation, pop up throughout the country serving savoury and sweet dishes. It is hard to judge how supply is able to satisfy the demand but unfortunately, with variety comes wastage as not everything cook is bought. In the days leading up to Eid, many return to their respective hometowns in order to celebrate with their families there. Not unlike Thanksgiving in America, on a smaller scale, Malaysia has to deal with similar issues. Traffic jams are caused by the rush to arrive home on time, which leads to the unusually high number of accidents, each year Traffic Police-led campaigns are launched to promote road safety and ensure fewer deaths. Morbidly, newspapers tally the number of those killed on the road.

Being a seemingly religious country, Ramadan and Eid is also used as an opportunity for by-the-way political campaigning. Members of Parliament, from both sides of the house, display posters wishing Malaysians a blessed Eid. Usually accompanied with pictures of local politicians in traditional outfits, posters would be strategically placed at mosques, traffic lights, below overhead bridges and on the side of buildings. Sometimes opposing political parties would have their posters side by side, in an attempt to out-banner each other. Although this is not unique for Ramadan and Eid (each religious celebration will see a display of greetings from your local MP), this is probably indicative of the need for politicians in Malaysia to be seen to be religiously conscious. Being a Sunni country, Ramadan is also a time where the religious authorities are particularly active. Over the last few years, the dominant racial group, the Malays have been going through what can arguably be called an “Islamic identity crisis” and this has led to a strengthening in the religious moral code in Malaysia. Although non-Muslims are allowed to eat and drink in the daytime, Muslims can be prosecuted and fined for eating in public during fasting hours. This year, some were sent for special Islamic courses to ‘correct’ their behaviour.

In spite of the slightly darker side of Ramadan, Malaysians still look forward to Eid and all the sense of renewal it brings. For Muslims, it is the end of a month of fasting and abstinence and the beginning of a month of festivities. A key component is forgiveness and it is very common for Muslims to apologise for any wrongdoings committed. Charity is also encouraged and a special religious tax, the zakat al-fitr is paid during the month of Ramadan. So in a few days’ time, we hope to be at the family table seeking forgiveness, enjoying a cleansed state of mind and body, hoping that the months until the next Ramadan will be filled with good deeds and good intentions.

Wherever you are in the world, Eid Mubarak and Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

Hizb ut-Tahrir & The 21st Century Caliphate

Despite being able to find some supporters, the party faces an uphill climb. With too many schisms within the Islamic world, Hizb ut-Tahrir will find it difficult to circumvent all of them through an ideal.


Hizb ut-Tahrir demo


On the surface, Britain seems like an unlikely location for the seat of the caliphate. However, many Islamist groups and individuals have called for the establishment of the caliphate, or khilafah from and in the United Kingdom. Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, established in Palestine in the early 1950s, found a platform in Britain from which to preach and spread its non-violent path to ‘true Islam’. It has found audiences and followers in Europe, Africa, Central Asia and recently, in South East Asia, especially Indonesia.

Following the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 and with no precisely designated succession plan, the newly Islamised Arabs were left leaderless. Thus began a long struggle, which arguable continues to this day, of who should lead the Islamic world. In recent times groups such as Al-Qaeda have called for a more violent struggle towards unity with a vanguard group at the helm. Ironically, but unsurprisingly perhaps, this is somewhat similar to Lenin’s concept of the vanguard to lead the communist revolution in Russia.

Hizb ut-Tahrir was formed during the Arab nationalist struggle of the 1950s. It wanted to unite the Arabs around Islam and saw the re-establishment of the caliphate as the best political system for the Arab world. Ultimately it failed in the Middle East – its call for a caliphate threatened the Arab monarchies, specifically Jordan where they had tried to register as a political party but were disallowed. Unable to preach openly, the group sought the religious freedom of the west and established itself in Britain in the 1980s.

In order to fit with the modern world, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been able to adjust its ideals to the 21st century. Their website talks of the establishment of a ‘modern caliphate’ that would encompass all, Muslim and non-Muslim. Its hierarchy, reminiscent of a corporation, has the caliph heading different designated departments, everything from finance to jihad.

Their message has been popular amongst the party’s target groups, including second-generation British born Muslims and Muslim students of different nationalities. Despite some scrutiny from the British government following the July 2003 bombings, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been allowed to continue to operate. Although they work fairly openly within the United Kingdom, it continues to look eastwards. Through pamphleteering and preaches, they remind followers and potential supporters that their struggle is not in the west.

Having established itself in Britain, Hizb ut-Tahrir has broadened its scope eastwards again, notably in Africa and Central Asia. Its members have targeted unstable countries where a caliphate could be offered as a potential solution. For instance in Zanzibar, where there had been some conflict between the Muslims and Christians, Hizb ut-Tahrir offered the caliphate as a solution. Condemning democracy as the way of the infidels, they promoted the establishment of an Islamic state.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has launched similar campaigns in Central Asia, specifically in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Their vision is to unite these three countries, together with China’s Xinjiang province as a way to kick-start the caliphate. However, in this respect Hizb ut-Tahrir has met strict resistance from the governments in this region. Undeterred, the party has most recently set up in South East Asia. A rally in Jakarta in 2007 saw an estimate of 80,000 followers call for the establishment of the caliphate.

Throughout its history, Hizb ut-Tahrir has remained true to its non-violent path. Despite backlash and suppression, they have only relied on preaching and campaigning in order to spread its messages and goals. A 2003 report by the International Crisis states clearly that the group has not been involved in any terrorist activity in Central Asia or elsewhere.

Hizb ut-Tahrir continues its campaign to establish a caliphate. Despite being able to find some supporters, the party faces an uphill climb. With too many schisms within the Islamic world, Hizb ut-Tahrir will find it difficult to circumvent all of them through an ideal.

Malaysia Wishes to Add You as a Friend

Though not a global player, Malaysia’s somewhat pragmatic attitude towards its international position means that it has avoided becoming a global doormat.




[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike that one Facebook user that (more or less) approves everyone as a friend, Malaysia adopts a similar approach to international relations, at least on the surface. It has 105 missions in 83 countries and has diplomatic and trading ties with the United States and Europe, as well as China, India, Japan and Iran. This diverse array of diplomatic relations is very reflective of Malaysia’s pragmatic attitude towards foreign policy.

With a population of around 28 million, Malaysia is a diverse nation with three main races sharing demographics and political power: Malays, Chinese and Indians. Situated in South-East Asia, Malaysia has prided itself as being the crossroads between East and West ever since its 15th century heyday under the leaders of the Malacca Sultanate. Besides spices and other trading goods, Islam arrived through the Straits of Malacca, Islamising the previously Hindu Malays. With the subsequent Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese invasions and settlements over the centuries, Malaysia has had its fair-share of foreign influence, domination and heritage – whether in its official language, its political and judicial structure, or in its landscape.

In other words, Malaysia is not altogether unfamiliar with interaction with the wider world. Not exactly a global player, Malaysia has had to maintain a working balance between East and West. Since independence from the British in 1957, Malaysia has had to reinvent its foreign policy to suit changing times, attitudes, and visions. Although initially a keen opponent of Communism (Malaysia was under Emergency laws for over a decade while it fought a Communist insurgency within its borders), it was the first country in South-East Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

During the premiership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, he put forth a policy of ‘West is Best but East is Better’. His vision was to place Malaysia at the head of the Developing World. He shunned the United States, Britain and Europe and instead, fostered relations with African and Arab nations. He spoke openly and aggressively against Israel and internationalised the Palestinian cause, at times, overtaking the Arab leaders themselves. During this period, this aggressiveness towards Israel trickled down to society and the Arab-Israeli conflict was viewed as a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews. The complication of this implication continues to this day with the unfortunate presence of anti-Semitism within Malaysia, which includes the belief in Jewish-led conspiracies.

However, the current Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak has opted for a more global approach to foreign relations. This includes a more open attitude towards the West, which can be seen with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to Malaysia. Najib has also tried to play the role of a typical international leader by paying a visit to the Pope.

In many ways, Malaysia’s foreign relations go beyond diplomacy. In recent years, it has become a popular choice for higher education among those from the Islamic world, particularly from Iran. There is an estimate of 70,000 Iranians in Malaysia today. After the 2009 elections, the ensuing demonstrations and the crackdown, many Iranians fled the country. Those who could went westwards. Many however, came to Malaysia – some arrived to pursue degrees, jobs, and many others came to retire under the country’s Second-Home Programme. Additionally, Malaysia has welcomed students from African countries such as Ghana. Malaysians themselves are very well-travelled and many have pursued their higher education in countries such as Britain, Australia, the United Stats, Russia, and Egypt.

Malaysia has also been active as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. It has sent peacekeeping forces all over the world, and most recently dispatched an army company out to Lebanon. Malaysia has avoided many major conflicts and though it has had some skirmishes with Indonesia in the past, it has been able to maintain stability in its foreign relations. Though not a global player, Malaysia’s somewhat pragmatic attitude towards its international position means that it has avoided becoming a global doormat.

Where Art Thou, Green Movement?

Iran’s reform movements have always needed time to gestate, the Green Movement is no different.



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is perhaps an understatement to say that the 2009 presidential elections was a pivotal moment in Iran’s recent history; the effects of those events are still being felt today. The demonstrations that erupted were in protest of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian Presidency, and in support of the candidate du jour, Mir Hossein Mousavi. A former Prime Minister of Iran, he was politically allied with former President Mohammad Khatami, and was a favourite of Iranian youths and professionals who sought change and reform in their country. This mix of politicians and their supporters became known as the Green Movement, with their distinct green headbands, wristbands and t-shirts.

For many months following the eruption of demonstrations, the Green Movement was at the forefront of political hope: what started as a protest against the election results quickly became a cry of revolution. The pictures of the demonstrations seemed no different from the images of 1979. Cries against an oppressive regime were being shouted, rallies were organised not just in Iran but abroad, placards of a popular leader (in this case, Mousavi) were displayed, and people were killed. The shooting and killing of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young female protestor, became a rallying point for many international organisations, including Amnesty International.

However, the ensuing crackdown by the government stifled any potential the reformists could have had. Activists were forced underground or were given no option but to leave the country. It was just not activists who were intimidated, but their families, associates, colleagues and friends. The regime rounded up many activists; sometimes even just people associated with the movement were imprisoned for months (some, years). Its leaders, including Mousavi, have been placed under house arrest or have been effectively forced into political silence.

Say what you will, but the Iranian government has somewhat successfully taken the wind out of the Green Movement’s sails. Now, with the current infighting between the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, it seems that political conflict in Iran has taken a different turn. Furthermore, with the Arab Spring, it seems that attention from Iran’s Green Movement (and perhaps rate of “success” seeing that the Arab has lost four of its dictators) has somewhat been diverted.

So, where are they today? Despite the crackdown and the lack of mainstream media attention, it would seem that the Green Movement continues on, albeit clandestinely or from outside Iran. The movement has been forced abroad with the new Iranian political émigrés now becoming activists in foreign countries. A small group of supporters have remained in Iran, to keep the movement as alive as possible, and in order to maintain a connection with its members who have fled the country.

However, like all movements, the Green Movement is riddled with infighting and conflicting ideas. Khatami and his supporters have taken a less extreme approach and do not look to topple the regime, but rather suggest working with it. Recently, the members in Iran produced a document listing and detailing the changes they want to see in the country. The members abroad did not accept this blueprint, and this is reflective of the conflict between the two groups. Each has their own influences and work within their own limitations. Unfortunately, instead of cohesion, this has produced conflict. Those within Iran are forced to keep the movement alive under trying circumstances with constant intimidation while those abroad are arguably too distant to participate or contribute effectively, or risk exposing their families and friends in Iran.

The Green Movement, for now at least, has been successfully muted enough for it not to pose any dire threat to the regime. When once we thought it could bring down the regime, it would seem that the Islamic government itself is going through its own internal crisis, with the conflict among the conservatives themselves. The Green Movement has however shown its potential as a political and social movement. It may not have been successful in 2009, but knowing the patterns of Iran’s history, change takes a while to gestate.

“A Not So Secret Marriage of Convenience”: Israeli-Iranian Relations Before 1979

Is it relevant to know that Israeli-Iranian animosity is rooted in mutual respect?



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t would surprise many to know that Iran was the second Muslim country, following Turkey, to recognise the state of Israel in 1948. It is an understatement to say Israeli-Iranian relations have gone a long way since the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran, from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s confrontation with Israeli troops in their 1982 invasion of Lebanon to the recent spat between the two countries regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons. However, before 1979, Iran, under the leadership of the Pahlavi regime enjoyed fairly close relations with the state of Israel. This remains fairly understudied, perhaps indeed because of their current (non) relations, but nonetheless this period does warrant further investigation.

Early in its history, Israel was in need of allies in a predominantly hostile region. Iran itself was coming out of a rocky period in its history: it was occupied by Britain and the Soviet Union for most of the Second World War, it faced a communist threat, it was still very much under the influence of Britain, and was fast coming under the sway of the United States. Being a Muslim, but non-Arab country, Iran too had some difficulty in its relations with the Arab world. This was particularly true with Saudi Arabia: whenever there were any problems between the two countries, Saudi Arabia would reduce the quota for Hajj pilgrims from Iran. Furthermore, Israel’s friendship with Iran was essential to its defence policy: by establishing close relations with nations at the periphery of the Arab world, namely with Turkey and Iran, Israel was able to create a ring of defence around its hostile neighbours. Indeed, the writer Trita Parsi, who wrote about the three-way relationship between the United States, Israel and Iran, described the Israeli-Iranian alliance as “a not so secret marriage of convenience”.

They were not casual, or indeed, convenient allies. Over the years, Iran supplied both oil and even arms to the Israeli state. They were involved in joint military projects and strategic planning. After the 1953 coup, which saw CIA involvement in the overthrow of the popular Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadiq, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi established the notorious secret police, SAVAK. In addition to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), he also turned to the Israelis and Mossad for their expertise in the secret service industry. Both SAVAK and Mossad in the mid 1970s held joint training operations for the Iraqi Kurdish separatist movement in order to undermine Saddam Hussain. In 1973 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and other Arab leaders invaded Israel, starting the October War. This was soon followed by an all-Arab oil embargo on the United States and other nations who assisted Israel. Tellingly, Iran stayed out of the war and even continued to supply oil westwards.

However, even allies run into some problems. Muhammad Reza Shah signed an agreement with Saddam Hussain in order to settle Iran and Iraq’s dispute over the Shatt al-Arab, a strip of land bordering the two nations. In honouring the treaty, Muhammad Reza Shah abruptly halted SAVAK’s involvement with the Iraqi Kurds. The head of Mossad’s operations there saw the treaty as a betrayal against the Israelis. In addition to this, Iran played the important role of negotiator following the Yom Kippur war. In an interesting turn of events, Iran supported Egypt’s claims in calling for a return to the pre-1967 borders. Iran went on to vote in favour of the “Zionism equals racism” resolution at the United Nations (this was revoked in 1991). As such, despite their closeness, Muhammad Reza Shah and Israel did not always enjoy harmonious relations. The final blow came with the ascent of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Israel was now “Little Satan” (whereas the United States was “Great Satan”) and all diplomatic relations were severed.

Israel and Iran have indeed come a long way: from convenient allies to committed strategic partners to sworn enemies. It’s hard to say what their former relations could say about the present. Is it actually relevant to know that their mutual animosity is rooted in mutual respect? Or is it actually just reflective of the volatile world we live in and that your friend today may be your enemy tomorrow (but you do what you can in the meantime)? Regardless of this relevance, further study and consideration of Iran and Israel’s joint past may indeed shed some depth in our understanding of their current relations, and may even offer some insight into their future.

Stop Worrying About Iran

Perhaps it is time that we took a cue from Dr Strangelove and stopped worrying to start loving the bomb (and Iran).



[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is a risky statement to make, especially in today’s political climate. Certain highly-strung Western-oriented nations are waiting for the incriminating admittance of the existence of an Iranian nuclear warhead, the importune moment, when they can finally say, “We told you so!”

Iran’s nuclear programme is not a secret, nor has the government ever denied it. It began in the 1950s during the Pahlavi era with support from Western governments, and was continued under the present Islamic regime. Iran sees the right to nuclear power as part of its sovereignty, and therefore a national prerogative. The historian could even describe Iran’s nuclear struggle as the 21st century equivalent of its fight for oil. For many years Iran had been enriching uranium for energy, and thus civilian, purposes. Nuclear technology in Iran is not advanced enough to produce anything military. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has made several visits to the Islamic Republic over the last few years. Its findings have been somewhat mixed: although it reported some years ago that Iran had indeed violated some safeguard measures, it has yet to find any conclusive evidence of a nuclear weapons programme. Indeed, since the invasion of Iraq on the pretext that it had nuclear warheads, which were never found, any accusation and response to Iran’s nuclear programme has to be careful.

As such the nuclear issue very much remains an existential threat, particularly so for Israel. But let us say, for a moment that Iran is very close to producing its first nuclear warhead and the imagined threat has become real.

For all its belligerence and hostility towards Israel and the West, Iran will probably behave like any other country that has a nuclear weapon, and not use it. Part of the power of a nuclear weapon is in its possession. In a way, it is a status symbol for a lot of nations. Possession does not mean that a country like Iran would use it to eliminate threats; it is understood that if a nuclear war were declared, all parties involved would essentially be signing their own death warrants. After all, even during the arms race of the Cold War, both the Western and Eastern blocs had nuclear weapons that they never used; but the threat alone was enough. Similarly, in a situation where Iran has a nuclear weapon, it would never actually be used in warfare. Instead, it would be used as a bargaining token and as a way to protect Iran’s position. In a relatively small region where very few countries are believed to possess nuclear weapons, Iran would probably not initiate a nuclear war in which the Republic and its enemies would mutually assure the other’s destruction.

Regardless of whether or not Iran would ever use nuclear weapons, even though there is no recent precedent of a nuclear country doing so, the question on the lips of Western nations would be, “Will we ever feel safe again?” This is the unfortunate reality that we live in where the Western world, led by the United States, determines who can join the nuclear family. This has led to much criticism and often, questions arise over why Israel’s weapon of mass destruction are tolerated but countries like Iran and North Korea are not seen as suitable members to the so-called nuclear club. In the scenario where Iran does have a nuclear weapon, one can expect two possible reactions by the West: they would call for immediate disarmament, or they would forcibly remove it by invasion or by sabotage.

However, peaceful coexistence is an option. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, despite some tension and close calls, were able to monitor the other’s possession of nuclear weapons. As such, it could serve in the interests of Western nations to not be too startled if Iran joined the nuclear family: measures can be introduced to moderate and ensure a responsible attitude towards nuclear weapons.

Ultimately, nuclear weapons serve a symbolic role. In all likelihood, Iran would possess it to serve certain figurative roles: as part of its national right, to psychologically assure the safety of its people and borders, and to remind the Western nations that economic sanctions have not hindered progress. As said earlier, despite its seemingly hostile attitude, even a country like Iran does not want war, especially since the Republic is no stranger to conflict. Perhaps indeed, it is time that we took a cue from Dr Strangelove, and stop worrying and love the bomb.

The Implications Of Iranian Elections On Foreign Policy

Experience has shown that the office of the President does not drive Iran’s relations with the Western bloc.



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a word, Iranian elections are complex. If it were a play by Shakespeare, it would have the cunning of Macbeth, the comedy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the tragedy of King Lear. The country’s Parliament, or Majles was established during the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911), which saw a myriad of different people, religious and secular, band together to challenge the absolute power of the Qajars, the ruling dynasty at the time. Since 1979 it has been renamed as the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

Iran held its most recent parliamentary elections on 2 March 2012. 290 parliamentary seats were fought over by pre-approved candidates. This year was quite unlike the presidential March 2009 elections, which saw violent riots erupting across Iran following the current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory over the leader of the Reform, or Green, movement Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Instead, the elections were hailed as a competition between Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose close relationship has deteriorated over recent years.

Many Iranians who are sympathetic to the Green movement abstained from voting. Indeed, acquaintances I know, in and out of Iran chose not to vote in protest to the pre-approved conservative candidates. Early results showed Khamenei’s supporters in the lead. But the question is what implication this has for the upcoming presidential election, and to what extent this could change the Islamic Republic’s attitude to foreign relations.

Since the March 2009 elections and arguably since the Reformist President Mohammed Khatami’s tenure, it appears that the battle cry for “change” and “reform” seems to have lost out to cynicism and a lack of enthusiasm for elections, especially for votes in the urban centres of the country. What has the recent parliamentary elections shown? Honestly (and predictably), not much. Conservatism very much remains the order of the day. It would seem with their absence from the candidates list and their leaders under house arrest, the reformists have been forced to take a back seat while the different conservative factions fight it out for the upcoming presidential elections, which are due to take place early next year. A few figures have been earmarked as potential candidates. Among those are Mohammad Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and closely allied to Khamenei, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff, and if he is allowed to stand, Mousavi.

It would seem that Western countries are waiting with abated breath for what comes next for Iran. As it his final term, it was rumoured a few months ago that Ahmadinejad through secret channels approached the United States government in an attempt to promote dialogue. However, Iranian relations with the United States are the worst it has been in a while. Over the last few days, President Barack Obama has announced new economic sanctions. Turkey, a member of the Northern Alliance Treaty Organisation (NATO) has followed suit and has announced cuts in its import of Iranian oil. Together with the looming threat of war with Israel, Iran has a lot on its plate.

Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iran has had to form ties with non-Western allied countries, such as Russia, Venezuela, China, and smaller players like Malaysia. A good future Iranian President would need to balance and be able to foster good relations with these other countries. But Obama is pushing for nations like China to also impose economic sanctions against Iran. It would seem that the nuclear issue, whether imagined or not, will continue to determine the West’s attitude towards Iran. This is more indicative of an attitude towards Iran as it is seen to be an ultra-religious and conservative, anti-Western country.

This is image has not benefited from Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements against Western nations. However, foreign policy attitudes cannot be focused on the presence, or absence, of one man (in this case, Ahmadinejad). Indeed, experience has shown that the office of the President does not drive Iran’s relations with the Western bloc. Indeed, despite Khatami’s efforts to improve Iran’s relations with the West, his gestures of friendship never became policy. This is reflective of the workings of the Islamic Republic, particularly with its highest office of power, the Supreme Leader who continues to drive and dictate policy.

As important as the upcoming presidential election is, one can’t help but feel cynical about the actual power of the President, let alone the significance of elections. Experience has shown that whether the next President is conservative or reformist, Khamenei will continue to have the final say. With rampant rumours over the Supreme Leader’s health, WikiLeaks revealed that he supposedly has cancer, the real question is who will succeed him? Short of a revolution, this is probably the closest “real” change one can witness in Iran.

Ahmadinejad, Poster Boy, No Longer: Iran’s Internal Power Struggle

Unless there is a radial change, it would seem that ultimately, Khamenei, with the final say in just about everything, has beaten Ahmadinejad.



[dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring a trip to Tehran in October 2011, I was astonished to see only one banner displaying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s picture (in comparison, the image of Iran’s current head of state, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was displayed just about everywhere, more often than not, alongside Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran). This did not seem to reflect the coverage the current Iranian President receives in the international media.

It would seem that definitely in Iran, Ahmadinejad and Khamenei’s recent rivalry has been a very public affair. Their conflict sheds light on the visible split within the conservative coalition in Iran: between those who support the supremacy of the clerical elite and the neo-conservatives led by Ahmadinejad and his supporters, who question that supremacy.

Following the controversial 2009 elections, Ahmadinejad had initially received the backing of Khamenei. But now, no longer the clerical elite’s poster-boy, Ahmadinejad has just about become its Macbeth. However, unlike Shakespeare’s Duncan, Khamenei has put up a formidable fight.

Several reasons can explain the souring of the relationship between the two leaders. It has been suggested that at the heart of the conflict is a convergence over two different visions of the Islamic Republic: Khamenei wants to understandably maintain the theocracy, whereas Ahmadinejad seeks to marginalise clerical rule and establish his own brand of conservatism. What is clear is that both parties want to justify their raison d’être.

With his own blueprint for Iran, Ahmadinejad has sought different ways to legitimise his power. One of Ahmadinejad’s chief supporters is his Chief of Staff and brother-in-law, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei. In seeking new ways to remain relevant, Mashaei and Ahmadinejad have looked to the past by trying to become champions of Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage. This was seen through their extensive promotion of an exhibition of the Cyrus Cylinder, which dates back to the 6th Century BCE during the reign of Cyrus the Great. As an alternative source of legitimisation, Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage is a source of great pride to many Iranians. And as such, it is a potent challenge to the position of the jurists.

Make no mistake: Ahmadinejad is a nationalist. To say he is Iran’s present-day Muhammad Mussadiq – the Iranian Prime Minister who nationalised Iran’s oil in 1951 – is a step too far, although it could be claimed that nuclear power is Iran’s 21st Century national resource and therefore a symbol of its sovereignty. By claiming thus, a cynic could conclude that this is yet another way in which he seeks to remain relevant. Indeed, Khamenei has accused Ahmadinejad of making the nuclear issue a personal, rather than a national, crusade.

However, it should be noted that the rivalry between the offices of the Supreme Leader and the Presidency is not new. Indeed, it has already been suggested that Ahmadinejad has simply fallen into the all too familiar pattern of previous Iranian Presidents, who upon reaching their second (and final) term, realise that their position has been marginalised by the clerics. Indeed, Iran’s previous reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, experienced this: he faced opposition from the Supreme Leader and the more conservative factions within government. Although Khatami was willing for more engagement with Western nations, Khamenei always had the final say in foreign affairs. Ahmadinejad has found himself in a similar position.

The current struggle between the President and the Supreme Leader has played out over the appointment of ministers, accusations, undermining of the other’s power bases, and arrests of supporters. The struggle over ministers was a main symptom of the conflict. **In April 2011, Ahmadinejad made efforts to remove Khamenei’s intelligence minster, Heydar Moslehi but he was overruled. A month later, Ahmadinejad removed the ministers of oil, industry and mining, and social welfare; but when he sought to take on the oil ministry, the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body, regarded it as an illegal move.

In retaliation to Ahmadinejad’s disobedience, Khamenei’s supporters have branded Ahmadinejad and his followers as a “deviant movement”. The Supreme Leader has even gone so far as to suggest the abolishment of the office of the President. **Recently, the Iranian Parliament summoned Ahmadinejad where he was scrutinised over his policies, as well as his supposed confrontation with the Supreme Leader. As the first President in the Republic’s history to be questioned in such a manner, Ahmadinejad’s credibility continues to be attacked.

With the Presidential election coming up, Ahmadinejad continues to desperately seek ways in which he can legitimise his position and political legacy: it is rumoured that he is grooming Mashaei as his successor. Another possible candidate to the Presidency, Tehran’s current mayor, Mohammad Qalibaf, has openly sided with Khamenei. Indeed, one would have to in order to be considered as a possible candidate for the election. Unless there is a radial change, it would seem that ultimately, Khamenei, with the final say in just about everything, has won the conflict. Ahmadinejad, despite all his efforts, can only hope for the best for his political legacy.

Netanyahu & Olmert Policy Variations Towards Iran

To what extent does the policy towards a nuclear Iran of the present Benjamin Netanyahu premiership differ from that of Ehud Olmert?
{Oriental Studies, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford}




In examining the Israeli position and policy towards a nuclear Iran, it is possible to note different attitudes between the Likud Party’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima’s Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu is more intense and dramatic in portraying nuclear Iran, while Olmert was more subtle and calmer. While both called for international awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat, they varied in approach and intensity. Furthermore, it will be shown that the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency has intensified the danger a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel. This essay is divided into three main sections: first, what a nuclear Iran means to Israel; second, how international attention was drawn to the threat; and finally, what actions Netanyahu and Olmert have called for to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. This essay will show how in speeches and interviews, Netanyahu and Olmert presented a nuclear Iran to the world.

What does a Nuclear Iran mean to Israel?

Israel’s security has always been a priority since the state’s establishment in 1948. Israel’s birth was mired in conflicts, from within its territories and from its surroundings. Israel views itself as an island surrounded by a hostile sea, namely its Arab neighbours that view Israel as an illegal state[1]. However, Israel sees itself as the homeland for the Jewish people: since the exile of the Jews by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd Centuries CE after the destruction of the Second Temple, there are more Jews living in Israel than anywhere else in the world[2]. As a result, Israeli governments have been concerned about the security of their citizens, and even more so about the potential destruction of the Zionist dream of returning the Jews to their homeland.

With this sense of threatened existence, Israel has been fearful of Iran since it announced the restart of its nuclear programme in 1992[3]. Ever since the 1979 revolution, the Islamic regime of Iran has often spoken against Israel and Ayatollah Khomeini has called for its destruction[4]. However Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999, saw the election of Mohammad Khatami as President of Iran in 1997. Even though Netanyahu initially saw Khatami’s election as a “positive development” for Israel[5], the Iranian leadership led by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei continued to speak against Israel and call for its destruction[6]. However, Khatami himself was considered a moderate and liberal figure in Iranian politics[7]. He sought to improve relations with the West[8], and, moreover, he condemned acts of terrorism against Israelis[9]. This shows that the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran was not as present during Khatami’s presidency. Furthermore, during this period, there was little comment on Iran’s nuclear programme by Israeli officials.

This changed when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the sixth President of Iran in August 2005. More conservative in outlook, he resumed the early rhetoric of the Islamic Republic. A few months after his election, Ahmadinejad addressed a ‘World without Zionism’ conference and declared that Israel was a “disgraceful blot” that should be “wiped off the face of the earth”[10]. By calling for the complete destruction of Israel, Iran posed a realistic nuclear threat. Although there were attempts by Ahmadinejad’s ministers to improve his image after this speech by saying that he had been misunderstood[11], his statements proved difficult to ignore and the threat he posed to Israel’s existence intensified. With Ahmadinejad’s fiery rhetoric, one can observe greater concern and urgency in the statements of both Olmert and Netanyahu.

After Ariel Sharon’s serious stroke in January 2006, Ehud Olmert was appointed acting prime minister, and following an election, he became Israel’s 12th prime minister. Sharon had already spoken against Iran and had warned of its developing nuclear programme when he said that Iran “makes every effort to possess nuclear weapons”, and that it would soon pass the “point of no return”[12]. Olmert echoed these sentiments when he discussed Iran’s enriching of uranium for the purposes of developing a nuclear weapon[13]. This shows that there was already a belief within Israel that Iran was intent on pursuing a nuclear programme.

However, during his time as prime minister, Olmert has displayed uncertainty over the authenticity of Iran’s nuclear programme. In an interview, he stated that he was unconvinced about Iran’s technological advancement in actually developing a nuclear warhead. Moreover, he said that Iran was not “as close as it pretends” to developing such weapons. He bases his judgement on what Iranian leaders have said, and has decided that although it is not far from it, Iran still does not have the technology[14]. According to a US intelligence review, despite the existence of a nuclear programme, Iran is still a few years away from manufacturing a nuclear weapon[15]. Iran has also signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows it to develop nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes”[16]. Olmert, thus, lacked the confidence to overtly accuse Iran of possessing nuclear weapons.

The debate over whether or not Iran has nuclear weapons is secondary to the fact that the threat of a nuclear Iran was enough to generate genuine fear. Despite doubt over Iran’s current capabilities, Israel believes that it is or at least will be armed in the foreseeable future, and this fear is enough for Israel to feel threatened. In an interview with the German weekly news magazine Der Speigel, Olmert stated that he believed that Iran’s nuclear threat was serious enough, and that Israel was convinced of Iran’s military programme and that Iran will fight to defend it[17]. Furthermore, in a poll published in Israel in 2006, it showed that 79% of Israeli Jews believe that Iran posed a genuine threat to Israel’s existence while 66% believe that Iran would develop a nuclear weapon and use it against Israel[18]. This shows that although Olmert himself was initially reluctant to talk of Iran’s nuclear weapons in real terms, the fear amongst Israelis was high. In order to appear as if he had its citizens’ interests at heart, he had to speak against Iran and the threat of its nuclear arms programme.

Although Olmert talks about the threat Iran poses to Israel’s existence, his views are fairly calm and he discusses the threat of Iran in vague terms, instead of painting a bleak picture. Furthermore, his tenure as prime minister was marked by a bribery scandal and criticism over his accidental admittance of Israel’s nuclear weapons on German television while on a state visit to Germany[19]. Olmert’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme and his heightened warnings and calls for further action against Iran coincided with increased corruption charges against him in Israel; many of his statements against Iran date from May 2008 when he was facing a ballot within his own party that would result in his removal[20]. By raising concerns about Iran, it could be said that Olmert was trying to encourage support for himself as well as to unite his party behind him.

However, since Netanyahu was appointed prime minister in March 2009, the tone against Iran has become more fatalistic. Netanyahu’s recent statements play on the sense of insecurity and hostility Israel feels, especially when he portrays Ahmadinejad as Hitler. This began when Netanyahu was leader of the opposition. While addressing the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, he openly declared that, “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs”. He went on to say that Ahmadinejad was preparing for another holocaust[21].

He echoed these sentiments when he became prime minister. In an interview with CNN’s Larry King, Netanyahu’s tone when speaking about Iran was ominous. He believed that it was “imperative to take note when someone [Ahmadinejad] calls for our [Israel’s] extermination”[22], which would be a modern-day Holocaust. By comparing Ahmadinejad’s Iran to Hitler’s Germany, Netanyahu was able to conjure up certain emotions and memory of the Holocaust, and the fear and threat the Jewish people experienced. Netanyahu’s terms were more dramatic than how Olmert addressed the threat. Moreover, Netanyahu was able to connect the present idea of a nuclear Iran with a not so distant past, in the form of a new Holocaust, thereby making the threat seem more urgent. This was enough to generate and perpetuate the fear against Iran. It also helped increase the urgency in Israel’s need for regional security, as well as international support.

Iran as a Nuclear Threat: Not Just an Israeli concern

As has been discussed above, Israel has been greatly concerned with Iran’s threats against its existence. In order to secure Israel’s security in the region, both Olmert and Netanyahu have portrayed the nuclear threat posed by Iran as a global concern. By doing so, Israel is not isolated and places itself under the responsibility of the international community. Olmert began to internationalise the nuclear threat when he first stated that Israel should not be the one to condemn Iran’s nuclear programme. Instead, he names the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany and France as those who should be at the forefront because they have the capabilities[23].

By making the nuclear threat a global concern, Olmert was able to place the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of other countries; particularly countries Israel considers allies that can deal with the Iranian threat. Moreover, to Olmert, the 2003 war in Iraq and the subsequent removal of Sadam Hussain improved Middle Eastern security, particularly for countries that have been targeted by Hussain, such as Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Olmert therefore sees President Bush as the “natural partner” in fighting terror[24]. This shows that the US would be an ally in a possible war with Iran, especially since Iran is considered a country that supports terrorism and actively calls for the destruction of Israel.

Netanyahu’s current term in office displays continuity with Olmert, especially in terms of the latter’s internationalising of Iran’s nuclear threat. Even as leader of the opposition, Netanyahu maintained the government’s position of making Iran an international concern. He even said that although Israel “would certainly be the first stop on Iran’s tour of destruction… [the arsenal] will be directed against ‘the big Satan’, the US, and the ‘moderate Satan’, Europe”[25]. A few months after he was sworn in, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Netanyahu stated that Iran was a threat not only to Israel but also to the entire international community. He qualified this global fear by stating that Iran is known to sponsor terrorism worldwide. He went on to say that it was possible that Iran could supply these terrorists with nuclear weapons[26]. Netanyahu portrays a nuclear Iran as a threat to global security through its support of terrorist activities. By continuing Olmert’s policy of internationalising the Iranian threat, Netanyahu has been able to place pressure on its allies to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Military Action Against Iran: Security at Any Price

The threat posed by Iran, compounded by Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric, has made both Olmert and Netanyahu voice drastic options to counter it. In 2008, while on a visit to America, Olmert addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee where he proposed that Iran should be stopped “by all possible means”[27]. There have also been calls by Netanyahu for the international community, particularly the US, to use military might in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In displaying that the US is also being threatened by Iran, he believes that responding through military means is “necessary”[28]. Both called for possible military action against Iran and in this sense, they do not differ too much from each other.

In speaking of such extreme actions, both have been quite vague about details. Olmert once stated, “There are many things that can be done economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily”[29]. Although he states the different options available to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he is vague about specific actions. In looking at the available options in addressing Iran, Netanyahu was also vague. As leader of the Likud Party in late 2006, he said, “all ways must be considered” but did not chart their specific details[30]. This shows that Netanyahu and Olmert do not differ too much from each other for calling for action against Iran, they are both unable to outline the details.

Despite the calls for military action, it is still considered an extreme option. Until now, Israel has acknowledged sanctions as a viable short-term solution. Olmert does say that the international sanctions are only the first step, and should be intensified[31]. Netanyahu echoes similar support for sanctions and has called for other countries to follow America’s lead[32]. He feels that sanctions can only do so much and are not enough to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. While Olmert calls for the intensification of sanctions, Netanyahu believes these are not sufficient. Olmert was less willing than Netanyahu to opt for a military response to Iran’s nuclear threat.

Netanyahu has recently been more overt in his call for military action against the nuclear threat posed by Iran. This began even when he was leader of the opposition. During an interview with Army Radio, he hinted that Israel was militarily equipped and capable to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, although he was vague about the specifics[33]. In New Orleans on 8 November 2010, he addressed the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. In his speech, he declared that it was necessary to mount a “credible military threat” against Iran in order to avoid war[34]. This statement came about soon after the victory of the Republicans in the US House of Representatives. Some Republican politicians like Representative Eric Cantor and Senator Lindsey Graham had already started to talk of military action in dealing with Iran[35]. The similarity with Republican rhetoric could have made Netanyahu more comfortable and confident than Olmert in calling for a military response to Iran. In this case, Netanyahu has shown more openness than Olmert in expressing more drastic measures to deal with a nuclear Iran.


The recent Wikileaks revelation, with all its limitations, has exposed Saudi Arabia as another country in the region that is fearful of Iran’s possible nuclear threat. The Saudi king has even suggested that the US government destroy Iran’s nuclear programme[36]. This shows that Israel is not alone in its fear and the threat has indeed become internationalised. Olmert and Netanyahu have both been consistent in making the Iranian nuclear issue global. The Ahmadinejad presidency has caused further concern as he openly calls for the destruction of Israel. However, as can be seen, Olmert has been quite calm in condemning Iran. Although he labels it as a threat to Israel, he does not elaborate what this threat exactly entails. Netanyahu has presented the Iranian issue in bleaker terms by comparing it to Hitler’s Germany, and by doing so, adds a sense of urgency to protect Israel. In terms of stopping Iran’s nuclear programme, Olmert believed sanctions as necessary, and if anything, they should be intensified. Netanyahu has been more open about calling for military action against Iran. Despite coming from different political backgrounds, they are united in the calls against Iran and see it as a threat to Israel. They only differ in terms of approach and intensity.

[toggle title=”Citations & Bibliography”]

1 Avner Cohen, The Worst-kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), p.xx

2 Ibid, p.xxiii

3 Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United Sates, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), p.266

4 Anoushiravan Ehtshami and Mahjoob Zweiri, Iran and the Rise of its Neoconservatives: The Politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution, (New York: IB Tauris, 2007), p.109

5 Naomi Segal, “Netanyahu Takes Positive View over Election of Iranian moderate”, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 30 May 1997,, (Accessed 21 February 2011)

6 “Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs Levy to the United Nations General Assembly, 29 September 1997”, Meron Medzini (Ed.), Israel’s Foreign Relations: Selected Documents, 1996-1997, Volume 16, (Jerusalem: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1999), p.360

7 Fred Halliday: “Iran and the Middle East: Foreign Policy and Domestic Change”; Middle East Report (No. 220; Autumn 2001)

8 Ewen MacAskill and Chris McGreal, “Israel Should be Wiped Off Map, Says Iran’s President”, The Guardian, 27 October 2005,, (Accessed 20 February 2011)

9 Parsi, Treacherous Alliance, p.211

10 MacAskill and McGreal, “Israel Should be Wiped Off Map”, (Accessed 20 February 2011)

11 Anoushiravan Ehtshami and Mahjoob Zweiri, Iran and the Rise of its Neoconservatives: The Politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution, (New York: IB Tauris, 2007), p.114

12 “Sharon: Iran’s Nuclear Weapon Programme Nears Point of No Return”, CNN, 13 April 2005,, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

13 “Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: ‘We Want Genuine Peace’, Der Speigel, 18 June 2008,, (Accessed 21 February 2011)

14 “Olmert: Iran ‘not as close as it pretends’ to nuclear capability, PM: International Diplomatic Pressure on Iran will in the End Keep Tehran from Attaining Nuclear Weapons”, Haaretz, 22 April 2007,, (Accessed on 21 February 2011)

15 Parsi, Treacherous Alliance, p.266

16 Ibid, p.267

17 “Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert”, (Accessed 21 February 2011)

18 Cohen, The Worst-kept Secret, p.xxiv

19 “Israeli PM in Nuclear Arms Hit”, BBC, 12 December 2006,, (Accessed 22 February 2011)

20 “Olmert’s Party Considers Ballot Over Scandal”, Reuters, 30 May 2008, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

21 Peter Hirschberg, “Netanyahu: It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany; Ahmadinejad is Preparing Another Holocaust”, Haaretz, 14 November 2006, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

22 “CNN Larry King Interviews Benjamin Netanyahu”, CNN, 7 July 2010,, (Accessed 22 February 2011)

23 “Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert”, (Accessed 21 February 2011)

24 Romesh Ratnesar, “Israel Should Not be on the Forefront of a War against Iran”, Time Magazine, 9 April 2006,, (Accessed on 22 February 2011)

25 Hirschberg, “Netanyahu”, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

26 “CNN Interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 September 2009,, (Accessed on 21 February 2011)

27 Butcher, “Israel’s Ehud Olmert”, Accessed on 21 February 2011)

28 Hirschberg, “Netanyahu”, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

29 “Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert”, (Accessed 21 February 2011)

30 Hirschberg, “Netanyahu” (Accessed 1 March 2011)

31 Butcher, “Israel’s Ehud Olmert”, (Accessed on 21 February 2011)

32 “CNN Larry King Interviews Benjamin Netanyahu”, Accessed 22 February 2011)

33 Hirschberg, “Netanyahu”, (Accessed 1 March 2011)

34 Ron Kampeas, “With Republican Victory, Netanyahu has support on Iran”, 11 November 2010, Jewish Telegraphic Agency,, (Accessed on 22 February 2011)

35 Ibid

36 Ian Black and Simon Tisdall, “Saudi Arabia Urges US Attack on Iran to Stop Nuclear Programme”, The Guardian,8 November 2010,, (Accessed 1 March 2011)



Cohen, Avner. The Worst kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.
Ehtshami, Anoushiravan and Mahjoob Zweiri. Iran and the Rise of its Neoconservatives: The Politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution. New York: IB Tauris, 2007.
Medzini, Meron (Ed.). Israel’s Foreign Relations: Selected Documents, 1996-1997, Volume 16. Jerusalem: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1999.
“Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs Levy to the United Nations General Assembly, 29 September 1997”.
Parsi, Trita. Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United Sates. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
Halliday, Fred. “Iran and the Middle East: Foreign Policy and Domestic Change”. Middle East Report. No. 220, Autumn 2001.
News articles (Websites)
Black, Ian and Simon Tisdall. “Saudi Arabia Urges US Attack on Iran to Stop Nuclear Programme”. The Guardian, 28 November 2010,
Butcher, Tim. “Israel’s Ehud Olmert: “All Possible Means” must be used to stop nuclear Iran”. The Telegraph, 4 June 2008.
“CNN Interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 September 2009.
“CNN Larry King Interviews Benjamin Netanyahu”. CNN, 7 July 2010,
“Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: ‘We Want Genuine Peace’. Der Speigel, 18 June 2008.
“Israeli PM in Nuclear Arms Hit”. BBC, 12 December 2006,
Hirschberg, Peter. “Netanyahu: It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany; Ahmadinejad is Preparing Another Holocaust”. Haaretz, 14 November 2006,
Kampeas, Ron. “With Republican Victory, Netanyahu has support on Iran”. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 11 November 2010.
MacAskill Ewen and Chris McGreal. “Israel Should be Wiped Off Map,
Says Iran’s President”. The Guardian, 27 October 2005.
“Olmert: Iran ‘not as close as it pretends’ to nuclear capability, PM: International Diplomatic Pressure on Iran will in the End Keep Tehran from Attaining Nuclear Weapons”. Haaretz, 22 April 2007,
“Olmert’s Party Considers Ballot Over Scandal”. Reuters, 30 May 2008.
Segal, Naomi. “Netanyahu Takes Positive View over Election of Iranian moderate”. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 30 May 1997.
“Sharon: Iran’s Nuclear Weapon Programme Nears Point of No Return”. CNN, 13 April 2005.
Ratnesar, Romesh. “Israel Should Not be on the Forefront of a War against Iran”. Time Magazine, 9 April 2006.