Obama and the Saudis

Hello Everyone,

After a pleasant visit to Rome visiting the Coliseum and Pope Francis, US President Barak Obama has now landed in Saudi Arabia.

Awaiting him, will be many critical issues to clarify if Mr. Obama can keep the Kingdoms trust as a key ally in the region.

American-Saudi ties have been strained over several key events in recent years. The King Abdullah has not hidden the fact that he has had displeasure over the ways Mr. Obama has been handling affairs in the Middle East.

The Saudis do not like the inaction, a they see it, of America in dealing with Bashar Assad of Syria and the terrible state of war that country is in.

Things came to a head when President Obama did not make good on military retaliation for the alleged use of Chemical weapons against rebels in a Damascus suburb. Saudi Arabi made public their disappointment in the President for the perceived about face in light of the hundreds of lives lost.

The Saudi's are still adement about military intervention to change the balance of power on the ground in favor of the Rebels.

They in fact, arm some rebels in their fight against the Assad regime.

The White House has said that there is no military solution to the conflict and that political means offer the best way forward.

One interesting thing is that Mr. Obama may use this conflict to pressure Russia in regard to their actions in Ukraine and Crimea.

Russia has been a stalwart supporter of Assad in Syria.

Another issue is Iran. You may recall that the Saudi's removed themselves from sitting at the UN security Council over the revelation that America was conducting secret talks with the Iranians over their Nuclear program – something the Saudis and Israel see eye to eye on. And then there is Egypt...

The Saudis believe the America turned their back on Hosni Mubarak and are largely to blame for that country's instability.

The Saudi's do not want to see militant Islam gain control of Egypt, they have no love for the Muslim Brotherhood, and have been actively supporting the transitional government with billions of dollars in aid when America cut funding to Cairo after the bloody crackdown of protesters raging against Mohammed Morsi's ouster by his Defense Minister (then) General Sisi.

If Mr. Obama plans on asking for the Saudi's support for the Palestinian Israeli peace talks he won't find an ear listening there...

He tried that on his last visit to the Kingdom – and that was when he was loved and admired for the hope of change Mr. Obama brought.

It's definitely a different ballgame now, and one for which we can pray, as the Bible instructs us to, for our leaders in the world.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Syria's Sad Anniversery

Hello Friends,

We are quickly approaching the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict that has claimed more than 140,000 lives.

The UN now says that more than 40% of Syrians are displaced – 9.5 million are refugees.

2.5 million have left Syria to places like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

11,000 children have died, over 1 million are refugees outside of Syria.

The fractional fighting amongst rebel groups continues to compromise the situation further as they fight amongst themselves. In recent days 2000 people have died in Northern Syria due to the most radical elements exacting lives from each other.

Devastation is everywhere. Starvation is rapid. Families separated, villages destroyed.

The UN, in some places, has been suspended some of it's humanitarian missions, citing the dangers to their staff.

Some UN personnel have been killed trying to help people.

It says openly that it does not have enough food to help feed the people under it's care.

Terrorists, Jihadists, and Freedom fighters... pro-government forces all fighting each other in this chaotic the sectarian conflict.

The international community seems out of ideas on what can be done.

The Obama administration, preoccupied with the Crimea Crisis and the Israeli Palestinian peace process, is accused of paralysis.

Russia continues to prop up the Assad Regime.

There appears to be a stalemate – but it is also correct to say that the last year has seen gains for government forces in terms of land controlled.

Hezbollah and Iran, Kurdish separatists and foreign fighters continue to push their agenda and ideology at the cost of human life.

Holms and Aleppo have suffered nearly three years of continues conflict and shelling, leaving streets and homes deserted.

Please remember to pray for the innocents and those who seek to comfort, care, and provide for these Syrians.

Do not loose hope that this horrible situation can end, that peace can prevail, and that God does care about His creation in Syria.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Iran Talks Conclude

Hello Everyone,

After three days of talks in Vienna between world powers and Iran over it's nuclear program, Iran has said the talks have concluded with an agreement on a framework for negotiations on a comprehensive deal.

The atmosphere at the talks was described as positive by Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union Foreign Policy Chief, said representatives from both sides identified issues that need to be resolved.

No doubt there is still much more ahead – with difficult challenges, but the parties are building confidence to move from the interim agreement we are currently in to a permanent one.

So far we have seen Iran reduce it's uranium enrichment (the lowest level in four years according to some reports, for the sanctions relief.

At stake here is a nuclear Iran, which it says it is not interested in.

The world powers want Iran to scale back its sensitive nuclear activities permanently to ensure that it cannot assemble a nuclear weapon.

It also says its nuclear work will continue, and wants an end to the sanctions that have hurt the average Iranian and his country's economy.

Lets be clear, no one is optimistic at present and more talks are set to follow.

From the World Powers point of view the current talks were productive.

The next round of talks will take place, again in Vienna on March 17th, and that technical experts had also begun discussions.

The sides have given themselves six months to negotiate a comprehensive permanent solution, although that deadline will probably not be met and thus can be extended.

Brian Bush Middle east Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Iran Negotiation

Hello Everyone,

Talks and diplomatic negotiation continue regarding Iran and it's nuclear program.

Senior European Union officials have expressed doubt as to if we will be able to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran.

Israel believes that the interim agreement led by US efforts is causing some cracks in the sanctions regime.

Some Israeli Government officials are critical however.

Israel's resolute "zero enrichment" position is possibly thwarting the State's influencing of these negotiations.

With the resumption of the major powers' talks directly with Iran regarding its nuclear project, Tehran it appears, has little incentive to conclude a final agreement.

Maintaining the Status Quo is good for Iran right now.

They have come out today saying that the dismantling of their Nuclear program is off the negotiation table.

Some Israeli analysts are saying Iran is exactly where it wants to be.

They are challenging Israel by standing atop Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's now famous 'red line' from the UN.

The chatter continues that Iran is perhaps weeks or maybe few months away from nuclear bomb making capabilities.

Israeli's say that Iran's reformist faction, along with the Iranian people themselves, are satisfied with maintaining the current positions because of the improvement in their economy since the sanctions were partly lifted.

And as evidenced by these talks, Iran's re-entry into the international community amidst all this dialogue is positive for the new Iranian leadership.

But the fact is that as long as there is a diplomatic process, Israel cannot attack Iran – as it says it will if Iran crosses over that 'red line' of Mr. Netanyahu's.

The reality is, that with this pressure of an Israeli unilateral attack, and at that – a possible US strike if things diplomatically were to fall apart and the Iranians renege on their word - there is no reason for Iran to cooperate too much with the international community.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Good News In Geneva

Hi Everyone,

There has come some good words from Geneva where world powers have wrapped up hosting the Syrian Government and Opposition Forces for a first round of talks.

The United Nations Syria envoy, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, has said that there has been progress, albeit slow, at the Syria peace talks.

Mr. Brahimi is quoted as saying that he observed a small amount of common ground between the parties – even suggesting that the parties may not realize that.

The two warring factions discussed humanitarian issues and how to end the violence.

More than 100,000 people have died in Syria since March 2011, with over 9.5 million Syrians displaced.

The second round is tentatively due to begin February 10.

What may be most important is that the two opposing sides made it though this phase, albeit tediously, in the same room and acknowledging the challenges.

The gaps are still wide – that's for sure, but Mr. Brahimi stated that it is a beginning which can be built upon.

The other challenge here is that several rebel factions, like al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, are not at the table for these talks.

The issue of how to tackle the foreign fighters who, in some cases have waged successful campaigns and garnered popular support, are a destabilizing factor to both the government and opposition and will need to be confronted in all likelihood.

But the key points right now for the Geneva Conference are stopping the violence, getting humanitarian aid to the people, and a political settlement.

The ultimate goals are a transitional government and democratic elections.

However the idea of a transitional government implies that President Bashar Assad will step down – which he has insisted he will not.

For it's part the Syrian government has focused on what it describes as terrorism, saying that this must first be dealt with.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

The Trials in Egypt

Hello Friends,

Let's get caught up with what's happening in Egypt.

The courts have been the focus for the press recently, as the allies of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been cleared of corruption charges.

This includes Mr. Mubarak's two sons and the last Prime Minister to serve under his term.

Since their father's fall from power, Mubarak's sons Gamal and Alaa, have been in a series of trials, and they, along with the former Prime Minister are still facing other corruption related charges.

The aged Hosni Mubarak is under house arrest following his release from detention back in August.

He is on trail for complicity in the killing of demonstrators against his rule during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Mr. Mubarak was first convicted in court, with that ruling dramatically overturned at the beginning of this year. He too, is charged in additional corruption cases.

Meanwhile the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, who has been under custody by Egypt's Army who overthrew him, has had the charged with conspiring with foreign organizations to commit terrorist acts.

Prosecutors said Mr. Morsi had formed an alliance with Hamas and Hezbollah. Former aides and various leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – 35 men in total, have also been charged along with him.

Mr. Morsi first went on trial for inciting murder and violence.

Egyptian prosecutors have described the new charges as "the biggest case of conspiracy in the country's history", and they carry with them the death penalty.

Morsi and the other defendants are charged with revealing state secrets to foreign organizations, sponsoring terrorism, and carrying out military training and other acts that undermine Egypt's stability and independence.

They say that the Muslim Brotherhood, the party from which Mr. Morsi is from, had prepared a "terrorist plan" in the alliance with Hamas and Hezbollah.

I'll keep you abreast of further developments on The Harvest Show – so Join us Monday through Friday for a great informative and inspirational way to start your day!

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Beirut Blast

Hello All,

The large blasts today in Beirut are a serious problem.

With 24 dead and 174 wounded, it is one of the largest attack's of recent, and one of the worst attacks in the predominantly Shia area (and Hezbollah stronghold) of southern Beirut.

The conflict in Syria has attracted both Hezbollah and Iranian involvement in defending Syria's President Bashar Assad.

Many here in the region are saying this is a rebel payback for their support for Mr. Assad.

This attack is the first attack on an Iranian target, as the blasts occurred around the Embassy and the Iranian Cultural Attaché, Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari, was killed.

The scale of the devastation is large – and the operational success of the bombing will probably wind up spawning even more audaciously brutal actions.

A Sunni Al Qaida linked group based in Lebanon has claimed responsibility.

This same group has fighters on the ground in Syria with the rebels forces who are fighting the Iranian and Hezbollah backed Syrian government forces.

Lebanon is already such a fragile tinderbox of sectarian violence – this action will surely be met with retaliations – including those lead by Iranian operatives in Lebanon.

Sunni rebels are taking a pounding from Syrian Government forces right now – and Hezbollah forces are a part of that.

The Syrian army is carrying out a major offensive to cut off the rebels' last supply routes into Lebanon.

The pressure is on the rebels. Just a few days ago one of their main commanders died of injuries sustained from an air raid carried out by Assad's air force.

But the rebels are loosing key positions – and if their supply lines fall, it will be a hard hole to dig out of.

Brian Bush Middle East Coorespondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Shared Intrest

Hi Friends!

In the press I found it interesting that some are saying that the Iranians are shifting away from the weaponry aspect in their Nuclear development.

This has been assessed by aspects of Israeli intelligence gathering.

Having said that, you may have noticed that other so-called major powers intelligence services are realizing that for Iran, it's strategic goal is not necessarily the destruction of Israel.

Their goal rather, some are projecting, is to potentially take over the oil-producing states like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Persian Gulf states.

Some say the Iranian campaign to become a nuclear power is moving forward so as to exploit the political weakness of US President Barak Obama's administration, who has tried to avoid a conflict with Iran, seeking a diplomatic solution instead.

Add to this that President Obama has lost credibility in the region due to the conflict in Syria – and the National Security Agency's alleged eaves-dropping on world leaders, and there could be a case for Iran trying to push it's program to see how far it can get.

Interestingly, this scenario has created an opportunity from Israel's point-of-view.

Countries in the region, for various reasons, are threatened about a nuclear Iran.

Many are US allies.

There are a few rifts being revealed between the US and these allies – such as the Saudi's refusing the UN Security Council Seat in protest partly over US policy in Syria.

Some Middle East common interests are developing – particularly among those potentially threatened by Iran - including Israel.

In Diplomatic circles, away from cameras and behind closed doors, dialogue is taking place between Israel, who may have both the guts and hardware to stop Iran if America doesn't, and Islamic states, because of the shared threat of a nuclear Iran and what that can mean here in the Middle East.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

A Little Breathing Space

Hello Everyone,

What a change a day can bring...

People here in the Middle East are feeling a little breathing space with the developments over the last 12 hours – lets see if we can piece together where things are at on the issue of Syria.

Russian has put forth a plan to place their chemical weapons under international control. Syria has said it accepts the proposal.

Discussion on this apparently has taken place a few days ago at the G20 Summit in Russia between the host, President Vladimir Putin and US President Barak Obama.

The US is remaining tough, while talking positively (with a hint of caution) on the Proposal.

The US doesn't want to see swift and verifiable results without any delays or avoidance.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the plan would be "exceedingly difficult".

There is going to be a resolution tabled to the UN Security Council with the aim of ensuring a proper timetable, process and consequences if the Syrian's don't carry out their job.

The concern for President Obama right now is that he will be addressing the Nation tonight and is now obviously doing a re-write of his script.

The primary thing he must put across is that he will make sure this proposal would not turn into a stall campaign.

There have not been a lot of details released about Russia's plan.

Join me tomorrow on the Harvest Show where I will bring you the lasted from here in the Middle East!

Brian Bush Middle East Corespondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Massive Demonstrations in Egypt

Hello All,

Everyone has their eyes on Egypt as massive demonstrations are underway in Cairo and other cities in Egypt.

Muslims in Egypt have now broken the Ramadan fast and are out in mass.

The hope is that things will remain as calm as possible, but supporters and opponents of the deposed President, Mohammed Morsi, are staging huge rallies.

Egypt's army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, earlier today called for demonstrations to give the military the mandate to confront what he called violence and terrorism.

He said he was not calling for public unrest and wants national reconciliation.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, who support the ousted President, dismissed Sisi's call as a "threat".

Mr. Morsi is being held at an undisclosed location since the Egyptian military stepped in to remove him from power back on July 3rd Reports say that over the last 24 hours at least 10 people have died in clashes taking place in Alexandria and Cairo.

Six were killed at a sit-in held by pro-Morsi demonstrators near Cairo University.

A new development today is that Morsi, after a Judge ordered him held, is facing allegations of links to Hamas for allegedly plotting attacks on jails in the 2011 uprising.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called the claim baseless – as has the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

The Brotherhood is saying that the charges are trumped up, as many charges were against them in the Hosni Mubarak era, because General Sisi feels under threat.

Lets pray that order and reasonable heads will prevail this night in Egypt.

Brian Bush Middle east Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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