Middle East

Kelly Moffitt, St. Louis Public Radio

When she was just 17 years old, Zuhal Sultan founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq during a time of great turmoil in her country. A pianist herself, she wanted to unite fellow Iraqi youth through music, paving a path to peace by bringing together members from the country’s many varied religions and sects.

via White House video stream

(Updated 5:37 P.M. Thr., Sept. 18)

The Senate voted Thursday to approve a $1 trillion stop-gap spending plan to keep the federal government operating until December 11.  The measure also contains the authorization for the Pentagon to train and equip Syrian Rebels in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS.  The measure was approved on a 78-22 vote and now goes to the President.  

Read our earlier story below:

(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)
(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, and after the gruesome beheadings of two American journalists, President Barack Obama told the American people in a televised address that the United States would "degrade, and ultimately destroy" the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, "through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy."

The St. Louis Arches perform at Circus Flora in 2010.
Provided by Circus Flora

Update July 29: The St. Louis Arches arrived safely in the city this morning. The nine performers and three adults had their stay in Israel extended for almost a week after flights in and out of that country were temporarily halted.

The trip was Arches' member Donesha Buhr’s first time out of the United States. She says, while she enjoyed the experience, she’s excited to be home.

(Courtesy Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest)

As the Consul General to the Midwest, Roey Gilad travels between 11 Midwest states representing Israeli interests. This week he visited St. Louis for the second time since becoming the consul general last February. 

“I’m there to build bridges,” said Gilad. “The bridge is already there, I’m there to make it stronger and wider between the Midwest and the state of Israel, between Missouri and the state of Israel and between St. Louis and the state of Israel."

(via White House photographer Pete Souza)

Today President Obama addresses the U.S. State Department on the events in the Middle East and North Africa and U.S. policy in the region. 

You can listen to the President's speech live below via NPR beginning at 10:20 a.m.:

Rocky Sickmann
Provided by Anheuser-Busch

For Rocky Sickmann of St. Louis, the U.S. war on terrorism began nearly 30 years ago -- on the morning he was taken hostage by Iranian militants and survived, along with 51 other American captives, 444 days of torment.

"If you talk to a lot of the hostages, you know the war on terrorism started on Nov. 4, 1979, when we did not retaliate on Iran. And it seems like Iran has humiliated us and taken us for granted ever since,'' Sickmann says.