Syria Football Team: the side giving hope and purpose to refugees in Coventry, Midlands, United Kingdom

Team Syria: the side giving hope and purpose to refugees in Coventry

Mustafa escaped Homs three years ago with nothing but playing in the final of the Communities World Cup at St George’s Park has helped rebuild his life
Team Syria walk out for the final of the Communities World Cup at St. George’s Park
 Team Syria walk out for the final of the Communities World Cup at St. George’s Park. Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian
AIWA! NO!“I left because of the war. My city is very dangerous. I lost everything. I lost my house, my car, my work. After the war I stopped everything. Playing football, work. Everything. I lost friends. I lost 500-600 friends. Sometimes I miss them, because life in my country is very difficult and dangerous.”

The words coming from Mustafa do not really match the demeanour of the smiling, sweet man delivering them. You would never guess he escaped Homs in Syria three years ago with nothing, having gone through unimaginable horrors, eventually making it to the UK. But on a chilly night in October, he led a team of fellow refugees to the final of the Communities World Cup, on the freshly laid indoor pitch at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent.

You have to double-take slightly when you meet Mustafa. A likeness to a certain Uruguayan forward, a big toothy smile and relentless running, might leave opponents briefly thinking they are facing the mother of all ringers. “People would tell me Suárez, Suárez,” he says, grinning that grin.

Mustafa might not be quite good enough for Barcelona but he did play football at home. To a pretty decent level too – he was a semi-professional on the books of Al-Karamah, eight-times Syrian title-winners. When he came to the UK three years ago, he started as many did by playing in the park with friends, before he heard about the Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), a charity based in Coventry.

The team who sprang from PYF started out pretty casually, kickabouts designed just for fun, and to build a community around football. Then they heard about the Communities World Cup, a tournament for teams in the West Midlands but representing nations from around the world, and the team grew and grew, almost entirely by word of mouth.

“Some boys joined the football team within three days of arriving in Coventry, before they’d even signed up for school,” says Cormac Whelan, the PYF health and sports coordinator, and the man who organised the team. “It’s great the way they’re looking after each other, and adapting into a new environment.”

Mustafa’s is one of many similar stories in this team of refugees, of fleeing across continents to escape desperate situations. Some would find their way to one of the vast, city-like refugee camps in Lebanon, with no idea of where their families were.

Mustafa looks to get on the ball in the final
Mustafa looks to get on the ball in the final. Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Some would be reunited with their loved ones in those camps but many would have to settle in the UK knowing nobody, with no support. That is where PYF and the football team come in.

Until the summer they had not played 11-a-side as a team but came together to enter the CWC loosely under the name “Team Syria” but by the end up to 10 nationalities had represented them.

The CWC was the brainchild of Obayed Hussain, who among other things was the Birmingham FA equality officer until recently, to run alongside the other, slightly higher-profile World Cup happening in Russia this year. Teams representing 19 communities around the West Midlands expressed an interest and eight were put into the tournament.

“The whole purpose wasn’t to see how good the football was,” Hussain says. “It was about providing that opportunity to those communities to celebrate their cultures and their love for football.


©The Guardian

Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s sons express faith in King Salman

Khashoggi’s sons express faith in King Salman. Salah and Abdullah said that all they want now is to bury their father in Al-Baqi cemetery in Madinah with the rest of his family, pointing out that they had talked about that with the Saudi authorities and hoped that it would happen soon.

Salah Khashoggi, 35, and his sibling Abdullah, 33, spoke to CNN
|AIWA! NO!|The sons of the deceased Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi expressed their faith in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and the prosecution of everybody involved in the case.

Salah Khasoggi, 35, and his sibling Abdullah, 33, spoke to CNN in a first sit-down interview since the death of their father a month ago.

“The king has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice and we have faith that will happen. Otherwise Saudi Arabia would not have started an internal investigation,” Salah Khashoggi told CNN.

Salah said his handshake with the Crown Prince shortly before he left the Kingdom was widely misinterpreted.

“I mean there was nothing, they were just over analyzing the whole situation,” Salah said. “I understand why they’re trying to do that. They are trying to get as much information as they can out of anything, which is something that we are also doing. Sometimes they are just baseless claims; sometimes they just do not make any sense. We are waiting for the investigation to be over.”

Salah and Abdullah said that all they want now is to bury their father in Al-Baqi cemetery in Madinah with the rest of his family, pointing out that they had talked about that with the Saudi authorities and hoped that it would happen soon.

Salah and Abdullah said their father has been misunderstood and intentionally misrepresented for political reasons.

“Jamal was a moderate person. Everybody liked him. He was an “amazing” father. I see a lot of people coming out right now and trying to claim his legacy and unfortunately some of them are using that in a political way that we totally don’t agree with.”

“Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through.” Salah said.

Salah said he relies on news reports for updates about the investigation into his father’s death.

“Our source is the same source that you have. It is a mystery. This is putting a lot of burden on us — all of us. That everybody is seeking for information just as we do. They think that we have answers, and unfortunately we don’t,” Salah said.

Abdullah Khashoggi, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, said he was the last of the family to see his father. He met him in Turkey and spent some time with him, adding that his father was planning to leave Washington area and move to Turkey to stay close to his children and grandchildren.

That he will return to Saudi Arabia soon to his banking in the city of Jeddah.

Salah said he would go back to his banking job in Jeddah very soon

YEMEN – “A child dies every 10 minutes”

UNICEF: ‘A child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen’

|AIWA! NO!|BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Yemen has become “a living hell for children” with about 30,000 children dying each year from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases, said Geert Cappelaere, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Cappelaere spoke during a news conference in Amman, on Sunday, after visiting Yemen that “Yemen is today a living hell — not for 50 to 60% of the children — it is a living hell for every boy and girl in Yemen.”
According to UNICEF, 1.8 million Yemeni children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition and each day 400,000 from severe acute malnutrition.
Cappelaere also said that “30,000 children die of malnutrition each year in Yemen,” adding “while a child dies every 10 minutes from easily preventable diseases.”
Upon Cappelaere’s visit to al-Thawra hospital, the only remaining referral hospital in al-Hudayda, he noted that “half of Yemen’s under-age-five children are chronically malnourished and more than a million pregnant or lactating women are anemic.”
“When giving birth, these women know that their children will be of low birth weight, starting that cycle of malnutrition and leading to chronic malnutrition and all the health consequences for these boys and girls.”
He stressed the figures were “a reminder for all of us to realize how dire the situation has become.”
Cappelaere called on the warring parties to join proposed peace talks later this month and agree to a ceasefire and a road to peace for Yemen, which “is incredibly needed.”
Despite growing international pressure to end a conflict that has left Yemen on the brink of famine, fighting has intensified in the rebel-held Red Sea port city of Hodeida, which is the entry point of more than 70% of imports into Yemen, leading to the appeal for peace talks.
Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie, the Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for an urgent and lasting ceasefire to the Yemen conflict, and advocated for vitally-needed support for Yemeni refugees globally. Jolie stressed “As an international community we have been shamefully slow to act to end the crisis in Yemen.”
She added “We have watched the situation deteriorate to the point that Yemen is now on the brink of man-made famine and facing the worst cholera epidemic in the world in decades.”

SAUDI JOURNALIST MURDER: Why we still can’t stop talking about Jamal Khashoggi

Why we still can’t stop talking about Jamal Khashoggi

Criticism of coverage of one victim of the Saudi elite is misplaced. In fact it stops the rest being reduced to statistics.

Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of the late Jamal Khashoggi, delivers a prerecorded message at a ceremony on 2 November in Washington, DC.
 Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of the late Jamal Khashoggi, delivers a prerecorded message at a ceremony on 2 November in Washington DC. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

failed to call it. The day after Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, I told editors that the story, unfortunately, would not hold attention for more than two or three days, so jaded was I with how Saudi’s brutality had become normalised.

It is now more than a month since Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, never to be seen again, but his killing has scarcely been out of the headlines since. It has focused attention on Saudi Arabia in ways that activists, journalists, human rights organisers and politicians have desperately tried but failed to do for years.

This is not because Khashoggi was a journalist and that the media always raise the alarm for one of their own tribe. Numerous journalists have been killed or abducted whose stories never captured the press’s – never mind the public’s – attention like the death of Khashoggi. And it is not because he was particularly high-profile. He was certainly networked in media circles but was far from a household name.

He was also not an opposition leader. There are other, more outspoken, politically organised Saudis in political exile who were more likely targets for the royal family’s ire. His self-imposed exile raised eyebrows in the Arab world for those who follow the twists and turns of Saudi politics, but beyond that did not register on a wider scale. Despite his decamping to the US, Khashoggi was regarded as a friendly critic of the Saudi government who weighed his words carefully, never advocated regime change, and was in regular contact with senior members of the royal family. For someone who was really known only among the inner circles of politics and media, it made little sense that within days of his disappearance everyone, everywhere, seemed to be talking about him.

There was something about this event, something that landed in a way that no one could have anticipated. There was an element of shocking betrayal; to be murdered in one’s own consulate, a place of refuge in a foreign land, was akin to being murdered in a church. To be lured, then stung. It was a violation of amnesty that made it more sickening than if he had been liquidated randomly on the streets of Istanbul. It was reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s amnesty to his two sons-in-law who had fled the country, only to be assassinated the moment they returned.

 Fiancee says Jamal Khashoggi was worried about visiting Saudi consulate – video

On the back of his murder, other atrocities committed by the Saudi regime have come into clearer focus. Arms deals with the kingdom are under greater scrutiny, with Germany halting future sales. The war in Yemen, which Saudi critics have been trying to call attention to for years, is suddenly higher up the agenda. Reporting from the ground has amplified the voices of doctors tending to starving children, incensed at how Khashoggi’s murder received so much of the airtime that they would be grateful for scraps of. “We’re surprised the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention while millions of Yemeni children are suffering,” a doctor told the New York Times. “Nobody gives a damn about them.” Last week, the US called for a “cessation of hostilities” in the Yemen war to be implemented within 30 days.

We cannot anticipate what horrors make an impact with the public and thus their governments. There is a certain spot, an intersection of moral abhorrence and personalisation, that unlocks sympathy and outrage. It is, of course, a failure that the world has not paid enough attention to the war in Yemen, but it is also a feature of human psychology, one that allows us to process the death of one known person, rather than millions of anonymous ones.

Jamal Khashoggi was the equivalent of the little girl in the red coat in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. The film was shot entirely in black and white, but a single girl was in colour, taken away from home with her family, playing in the mud in a concentration camp, and then piled up lifeless with other bodies on a cart. The technique identified the single story among millions, sharpening and humanising it to highlight what psychologists call “collapse of compassion”, our natural tendency to turn away from mass suffering.

It is why images of distressed individuals sear themselves in history’s eye, rather than all the mass of detail that is known about a war or a famine. It is why one individual can spark national uprisings, why the Tunisian vegetable seller Mohammed Bouazizi setting himself on fire unleashed passions across the Arab world, and why the trials of the thousands of incarcerated or tortured did not.

 Nesrine Malik is a Guardian columnist

”Donald Trump Junior Fears Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. I told you so;” Stormy Daniels Lawyer, Michael Avenatti

President Trump Accuser’s Lawyer Michael Avenatti Reacts to Don Jr.’s Fear of Robert Mueller: “I told you so.”

|AIWA! NO! |Donald Trump Jr. gave an interview with USA Today for an article published Wednesday, in which he expressed concern that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could make up allegations against him as part of his Russia investigation.

“I know that I’m not worried about anything I actually did,” Trump Jr.told the newspaper. “That doesn’t mean they don’t totally fabricate all of this stuff at this point.”

That remark was apparently enough for attorney and Trump-baiter Michael Avenatti to claim victory when it comes to his prediction that the president’s son will be indicted by year’s end.

“Translation of @DonaldJTrumpJr comments: ‘Avenatti was right when he predicted I would be indicted (which is one of the reasons why we are so concerned about him running in 2020 and going after us),’” Avenatti posted in a Thursday tweet. He included a link to a Newsweek article that reprinted Trump Jr.’s remark.

Michael Avenatti

Translation of @DonaldJTrumpJr comments: “Avenatti was right when he predicted I would be indicted (which is one of the reasons why we are so concerned about him running in 2020 and going after us)” 

Donald Trump Jr. says he’s worried Robert Muller will “totally fabricate” charges against him

“I know that I’m not worried about anything I actually did,” Trump Jr. said.

Avenatti, who first engaged in battles with the Trumps through lawsuits brought against the president by Stormy Daniels, has been talking about a Don Jr. indictment for some time now. On October 9, the lawyer warned Trump Jr. that he find himself in a federal prison, saying, “Buckle up Buttercup.” Two days later, Avenatti took it a step further, predicting that not only will the president’s son be indicted, but that it will happen before the end of 2018.

Then, on October 14, Avenatti specified that an indictment could be for making false statements to federal agents. Trump Jr. drew scrutiny over a meeting he arranged with senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian attorney where he apparently was hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.


United States – Caravan Migrants Take a Stunning Action Against President Trump – And Immediately Inspire Outrage

With the migrant caravan still more than a thousand kilometres from the U.S. border, Susan Ormiston looks at a day in the life of the migrants and finds out a little more about who is in their midst.

Caravan migrants take a stunning action against Trump – and immediately inspire outrage

Caravan migrants take a stunning action against Trump – and immediately inspire outrage
Migrants in the caravans from Honduras and other Latin American countries headed towards the U.S. border filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration alleging unconstitutional acts against them. (PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Breaking: Trump makes a big announcement about how many troops are going to the border
President Donald Trump told reporters that he was considering sending as many as 15,000 troops to the border to prevent the entrance of a migrant caravan from Honduras. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)

The complaint alleges that President Donald Trump is violating the Flores Agreement by detaining children in tents without the proper facilities as required by the law.

READ RELATED: Donald Trump suggests US soldiers could fire on migrant caravans if they throw rocks

The complaint continues to claim that because of his actions, the president also is violating the due process rights of migrants who should be allowed to legally challenge their designations as illegal aliens apart from asylum seekers.

Some 2,000 migrants traveling in two groups departed El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador hours apart Wednesday morning, heading north in the hope of reaching the US. The first caravan numbering 4,000, which has been on the road for the past two weeks, planned to rest at least a day or longer in the Mexican city of Juchitan beginning Wednesday, hoping to organize mass transport northward after days of hard walking in scorching temperatures that have left them about 900 miles from the nearest US border crossing in McAllen, Texas.

“The legal problem with Trump’s plan to stop caravan persons from entering this country is that Plaintiffs are seeking asylum, and Trump simply cannot stop them from legally doing so by using military, or anyone,” the filing read.

“How is this real?”

Many on social media could not believe that migrants were already taking legal action against the government of a country they had not even entered into yet.

“A group of people in the migrant caravan is suing the U.S. government in federal court,” said Daily Mail David Martosko, Daily Mail editor.

“None of them is a U.S. citizen or a permanant resident,” he added, “and none of them is physically in the U.S. or has ever been physically in the U.S. I give up. How is this real?”

“This is fully ridiculous.” responded California GOP committeewoman Harmeet K. Dhillon.

The lawsuit names President Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security, and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, among others, as the defendants.

Earlier Thursday, Trump made a very strong statement against illegal immigration generally and the caravan migrants specifically, and said that he would change immigration policy to prevent their entry into the United States.


Yemen Girl Who Turned World’s Eyes On Country’s Famine And Conflict Dies Aged 7

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7. “My heart is broken,” her mother said.CreditCreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

|Declan Walsh, The New York Times|AIWA! NO!|CAIRO — A haunted look in the eyes of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old lying silently on a hospital bed in northern Yemen, seemed to sum up the dire circumstances of her war-torn country.

A searing portrait of the starving girl published in The New York Times last week drew an impassioned response from readers. They expressed heartbreak. They offered money for her family. They wrote in to ask if she was getting better.

A Yemeni child stands outside the family house which was destroyed several months ago in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition at a slum in the capital Sanaa, on March 12, 2016. (AFP/Mohammed Huwais)
A Yemeni child stands outside the family house which was destroyed several months ago in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition at a slum in the capital Sanaa, on March 12, 2016. (AFP/Mohammed Huwais)

On Thursday, Amal’s family said she had died at a ragged refugee camp four miles from the hospital.

READ RELATED ARTICLE: THE TRAGEDY OF SAUDI ARABIA’S WAR: Amal Hussain, 7, is wasting away from hunger. The Saudi-led war in Yemen has pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

“My heart is broken,” said her mother, Mariam Ali, who wept during a phone interview. “Amal was always smiling. Now I’m worried for my other children.”

The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

The Khashoggi killing has cast light on Saudi tactics in Yemen, where an economic war has pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

The grievous human cost of the Saudi-led war in Yemen has jumped to the top of the global agenda as the outcry over the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi prompts Western leaders to re-examine their support for the war.