Reginal Fear

Hello All,

This is the second day Saudi Arabia has struck by air targets in Yemen as they pursue Houthi rebel targets in their offensive in Yemen.

Last night, Arab foreign ministers agreed to a draft resolution for Egyptian and Saudi Arabian troops to lead a ground operation in Yemen against the Shite rebels.

The unified military force was announced by the Arab League's general Secretary in Cairo.

Iran, who is largely seen as a fundamental supporter of the Houthi rebels has demanded an immediate halt to the Saudi-led strikes. The Saudis are Suni in their orientation.

Earlier this week the Houthi rebels seized control of the strategically important city of Taiz in southern Yemen.

The takeover sparked protests among local people, at a time of escalating violence by rival armed groups, including Islamic State militants.

The rebels appear on the verge of taking over the key port city of Aden in the country's south and had already driven out Yemen's embattled president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who has fled to the Saudi capital of Riyadh by sea.

Reports say the Saudi kingdom has deployed 100 fighter jets, and 150,000 soldiers along with navy units.

The imminent fall of Aden has pushed Yemen further towards a violent Civil War – with the Islamic State also waging war against both Yemeni factions.

The regional fear is that a proxy war is going to be fought in Yemen, the poorest country of the Middle East – between the regional powers of Arab Suni and Shai Muslims.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Spy vs. Spy

Hello Everyone,

When I was a kid I did not read comic books much... but I loved the classic Spy vs. Spy!

Now how does that relate to news in Israel?

It seems every day brings a new crisis for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in the wake of his victory in the Israel elections.

Today, Israel's politicians have had to come out and strongly deny a report from The Washington Post that Israel spied on the US-led negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program.

The report indicates Israel did so in order to build it's case against an agreement.

What is worse is that, according to the report, Israel shared confidential information it gathered and shared it with other countries and US lawmakers in trying to derail the possibility of a successful outcome for the talks.

Israel describes the claims as "utterly false".

US House Speaker John Boehner is arriving shortly here in Israel.

It was Speaker Boehner who 'invited' Prime Minister Netanyahu to address both houses of Congress shortly before the Israeli elections and without coordinating things with the White House.

Mr. Boehner's visit is largely viewed over here as a 'victory lap' in his and Mr. Netanyahu's joint desire to see the 'deal' with Iran headed up by President Barak Obama canceled.

Mr. Boehner said he was "shocked" and "baffled" by the report of Israel having spied upon the negotiations and potentially using that information to influence perceptions about the deal.

The White House discovered the Israeli eavesdropping when US intelligence, who was spying on Israel, intercepted messages containing content from various closed door meetings.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Israel Votes

Hello Everyone,

It is a beautiful brisk day here in Jerusalem with lovely clouds overhead.

Many people have been out today enjoying the lovely weather.

Most Israelis have the day off of work in order to get out and vote for who their next government will be.

The numbers have been high so far - which is encouraging.

Many analysts are suggesting that the winner will be determined by how the smaller parties vote.

By 2:00pm there has been 36.5% of the eligible 5.8 million voters recorded.

There are no exit poll statistics to share at the time of this posting, but there is a buzz about that Isaac Herzog, the challenger in this race, may defeat Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

If that were to happen it does not mean that Mr. Herzog will be the next Prime Minister of the 20th Knesset (Israel's Parliament).

Herzog would have to pull together a coalition of small parties to create a 61 plus majority in the 120 seat Knesset in order to secure that.

Mr. Netanyahu on the other hand, being that he has been Prime Minister of Israel three times, has the proven ability to wheel and deal his way with the various political parties to build a coalition government and thus walk his way back into the office of Premiership for his fourth term.

I'll have an update for you tomorrow during the Harvest Show - be sure to tune in for the latest from here in Jerusalem!

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Update on Iraq

Hello Friends,

Things are heating up in Iraq.

Iraqi government forces have been advancing further into Tikrit in the largest offensive push by Iraqi and Shia Militias against Islamic State.

Attacking from four fronts, the Iranian advised forces have put the jihadists in a position of having to fall back to defensive positions in several places of the city.

Some reports are saying that there are only 150 IS fighters remaining.

23,000 government aligned forces are involved in the operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown.

Tikrit lies half way from Baghdad to Mosul along the Tigris river.

IS fighters have been deposed from several towns and villages along the way.

But Iraqi forces have encountered literally hundreds of make-shift bombs along the way.

In Iraq's western Anbar province, Islamic State fighters carried out an onslaught assault from all directions upon the city of Ramadi.

More than 40 Iraqi soldiers were said to be killed just outside the city when IS fighters dug a tunnel and filled it with explosives - blowing up an Iraqi army headquarters. The campaign by Islamic State on Ramdi was started by the firing of more than 150 motor and rocket rounds.

The City has also been hit by suicide attacks using explosives-laden vehicles to attack security checkpoints and a bridge.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Time Will Tell

Hello Everyone,

Lots of things happening here in the Middle East and we must chose one to focus upon – and lets talk about the upcoming Israeli Elections less than two weeks away.

Prime Minister Bibi Netanuahu's Likud party had been holding it's own over the last few weeks, but now has been overtaken by the Zionist Union party co-chaired by Issac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

Yair Lapid, who was the election darling last time around has seen his Yesh Atid party also gain ground in the polls.

Prime Minister Netanuahu has been out and about pushing his campaign and trying to secure the vote of the Israeli right.

Mr. Netanyahu has had a love/hate relationship with the settler community over the years.

Currently Netanyahu is in turbulent waters with the enterprise, as documents have emerged allegedly asserting the Prime Minister Netanyahu was willing to do peace with the Palestinians based on the 1967 cease fire lines.

This would leave the majority of settlements outside of the demarcation of Israel proper.

It should be noted that the documents referred to indicate that agreed upon ;and swaps would place major settlements inside Israel's control.

Mr. Netanyahu has gone into damage control mode, visiting the West Bank now for the third time stating that the details in his agreement back in 2009 to a two state solution are now irrelevant.

Netanyahu says that Islamic extremists will be at Israel's doorstep shortly and that control of the West Bank – including military presence is a must for the protection of the State.

The Prime Minister also voiced yesterday that there is an international effort to remove him and the Likud from power.?

But factually Mr. Netanyahu, although in a close race for the elections, is probably not to worried...

Last election, Netanyahu lost the election but won the Premiership, and then was tasked with building his government coalition.

Some analysts are suggesting the same will happen again.

Under the system of governance here in Israel, you can win an election, but fail to bring a government together.

This means the President of the country can ask the runner-up to form a government in a set time frame. If he succeeds, then with the Presidents blessing, he 'wins' the election, and the government he has pulled together will begin.

Time will tell...

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LESEA Broadcasting

Nimrod Bulldozed in Iraq

Hi Friends,

Terrible terrible news to share today...

Islamic State fighters have looted and bulldozed the Biblical ancient Assyrian city of Nimrod in northern Iraq.

The location was founded in the 13th Century BC.

Nimrod is an archaeological site today (or rather was...).

IS fighters removed it's valuables and then leveled the site to the ground using bulldozers and heavy machinery.

Destroyed were all the statutes, wall reliefs, and a castle.

The UN cultural agency UNESCO described the action as an "appalling attack on Iraq's heritage".

Islamic State says all idols must be destroyed.

I think that IS did this because they know their situation is deteriorating overall.

I say this because in their mindset – if they lose – they wish to leave their mark.

They want to leave dread of their name to the next generation.

Some in the region – and in deed in the world have urged greater action to protect the treasures of humanity left in Iraq.

Civilization largely got its start in this region, and the artifacts in this area of human dwelling carry invaluable assets to us today, let alone their Biblical tie-ins.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

One Down and One to Go

Hello Everyone,

Well - it's one down and one to go... Reaction to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's address before the American Israel Public Afairs Committee has drawn mixed reactions here in Israel.

Most commentators it seems are actually saving their thoughts for today's speech before Congress.

There are many voices saying this whole thing is a mistake, but many are saying Prime Minister Netanyahu is benefiting politically in many ways.

The thing some pundits are critical of is that the Prime Minister, who all here in Israel agree is a master at Israeli political spin, has orchestrated for himself a taxpayer paid to Washington DC where he is projected to pick up millions in campaign cash and free media coverage two weeks before elections.

His political adversaries can only sit back here at home and watch.

They have to spend cash to rebut the Prime Minister.

On the relations with the White House, some see that President Barak Obama is changing his tactic a bit.

After harsh warnings on Israel divulging secret details within the framework deal being discussed with Iran, and the lauding of the unprecedented support of Israel by the Obama administration – the onus now falls on Mr. Obama's response to the Prime Minister's speech today.

The media here see Mr. Obama's interview with Reuters news interview as a compile of facts, which the White House released prior to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday.

But oddly, the one who may benefit the most in this wrangling is Iran, who can squeeze more out of the negotiations with America as it knows Israel is providing pressure on her.

After all, President Obama mentioned that there is no good reason not to negotiate with Iran.

But Iran has rejected the idea of suspending it's nuclear activities for 10 years as Mr. Obama wants.

Israel wishes to insure that no aspect of an Iranian nuclear program could possibly be used to create a nuclear bomb.

Israel is not alone in this desire here in the Middle East – but it is certainly the most outspoken.

We will see in a few hours time what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will say to Congress.

Be sure to join me tomorrow on the Harvest Show for reaction from here in Israel and the Middle East.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Verse for Prayer

Hello Everyone,

Islamic State militants have now reportedly abducted at least 226 Assyrian Christians over the past three days from their homes in 11 villages in northeastern Syria.

Men, women, and children from the ancient Christian minority are now thought to be under threat of the same fate of the 21 Coptic Christians recently killed by IS in Libya.

There was no armed resistance in the area, which now is under IS control.

Up to 3000 Assyrian Christians have fled their homes, worried that Islamic State fighters may make more predawn raids to kidnap them.

Some reports have upwards of 600 individuals taking refuge in a church in a nearby Kurdish held city.

Islamic State now has come to control the area of the villages – placing uncertainty on the unknown number of people not able to get away.

Here in Jerusalem there are both Coptic and Assyrian Christian communities.

They are praying for their communities protection – along with relatives and loved ones effected by the evil of Islamic State.

They are praying bravely too, for those captors to be forgiven despite the terrible things they are doing.

God knows every single soul involved. We can pray for His love, mercy, and protection to be upon those who are His... and that His Will will be done.

Friends, I can't ask you enough, that you kindly pray for the Christians here in the Middle East. Pray that fear would not control people – but rather trust – trust in the Living Almighty Lord.

Isaiah 41:10 reads a good verse for prayer for these persecuted Christians:

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Thank you,

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Pray Hard

Hello Everyone,

We need to pray – and pray hard for at least 90 men, women and children of the Assyrian Christian community who have been abducted from their homes by Islamic State.

This happened in the northeast Syria at dawn near to a town called Tal Tamr.

Some of the indigenous Christians were able to escape, prompting an exodus of 3000 Assyrians reaching the nearby Kurdish controlled city of Hassakeh.

Islamic State's online radio station, al-Bayan, confirmed the kidnappings reporting that fighters had seized "tens of Crusaders".

Understandably there is great fear for the lives of these individuals given what happened to 21 Coptic (Egyptian) Christians last week in Libya at the hands of Islamic State.

But there may be a different plan at work here.

There is much talk of Islamic State forces pulling away from areas. This week, Kurdish forces have successfully taken 30 villages and towns back out of IS's control as they continue to advance deeper into IS-held territory.

This prompts the question; Part of this may be due to the perception that there is an upcoming battle for Mosul which, in essence, is Islamic State's capital city for lack of a better term.

IS may be taking prisoners in order to force a swap with Kurdish forces who hold much needed IS fighters.

Another possibility, though less likely, is that in this area where the Christians were abducted, it is strategically important to IS because it borders Turkey and Iraq's north west corner which is firmly controlled by IS.

The Jihadists then could be trying to 'scare out' people who could potentially turn upon them if IS were to be found in a vulnerable position – or to make numbers more manageable.

Whatever the reason for the action, these people were seized because they are Christian.

My brothers and sisters in faith – please pray for these people in your family of faith, that God will bring hymn and scripture to mind, the comfort and protection of the Holy Spirit, and the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May it be that their lives may be spared, and if not – God grant them peace of soul, strength, and surety in your Glory awaiting them.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Snow in Jerusalem

Greetings Everybody!

It snowed last night and this morning in Jerusalem!

Fact is it has snowed elsewhere too in the Middle East...

Israel even had snow as far down south as Arad in the desert getting close to Eilat at the Red Sea.

Back here in Jerusalem I started to wonder how many snowfalls my 750 year old home has endured...

And how much water has been collected over the centuries in my cisterns!

My mind continued to wander...

Are there any references to physical snow in the Scriptures – I wasn't aware of any...

Surely it must have snowed during the time of David? the prophets? The New Testament era?

Why are there no mentions of snow!?

We do have those beautiful descriptions of Almighty God that reference snow.

But perhaps most telling is the fact that our sin leaves a stain – a color of scarlet - a shade of blood red upon us.

Jesus of course shed His blood for us - this is the Christian Hope - His sacrificial death atoning for my sin.

Isaiah, the great prophet of Israel, opens His book in verse 8 with the declaration: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...".

So in the snow I thought:

How thankful I am for God's covering over me.

How thankful I am for His pure renewing – which I have no power or claim over.

How thankful I am for His great faithfulness.

How thankful I am for His Word.

How thankful I am for God using things within His creation (like snow in Jerusalem) to encourage me in Who He Is, What He does, and the Hope He gives to me that though I sin, He washes that stain away...

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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