News Decoder
I once saw Taliban take Kabul. Recapture is Western fiasco.

I once saw Taliban take Kabul. Recapture is Western fiasco.

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan after another failed foreign intervention. Will they ease their hard line? And what lessons can be learned? Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s presidential palace, Kabul, Afghanistan, 15 August 2021 (AP Photo/Zabi...

The reconquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban is a fast-moving story, and the mainstream media is busy keeping us informed of the latest developments. It’s one of those stories that cries out for context, and Alistair Lyon delivers the goods in his tour de force, informed by his years on the ground in the South Asian nation. If those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it, then Lyon’s article might help young readers understand why the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was almost destined to fall short — and help them avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Exercise: Ask your students to compare U.S. involvement in Afghanistan with another foreign entanglement, and to elaborate on similarities and differences between the conflicts.

Yemen war snuffs out fleeting hope for change

Yemen war snuffs out fleeting hope for change

A civil war in Yemen marked by foreign meddling has created an unparalleled humanitarian disaster with no end in sight, even if a truce were agreed upon. A malnourished child waits to be fed at a hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, 21 March 2021. (EPA-EFE/YAHYA ARHAB) A...

News Decoder is backed by dozens of veteran correspondents who have covered many of the world’s biggest and most complicated stories of the past half-century. Mentors to students in our partner schools, the correspondents are experts in their own right in many of the world’s most intractable and consequential issues. Cutbacks in spending on foreign news means some big stories don’t receive the attention they deserve in mainstream Western media. But Alistair Lyon, a former Middle Eastern diplomatic correspondent for Reuters, won’t let News Decoder readers forget the humanitarian disaster underway in Yemen. Have your students read this article to learn about the complex conflict gripping Yemen and ask them to identify other ongoing humanitarian crises that are not grabbing headlines.

Lebanon explosion hits nation already on its knees

Lebanon explosion hits nation already on its knees

Disaster was awaiting Lebanon, its finances in tatters. Now a huge chemical explosion has compounded the crushing challenges facing the tiny but pivotal nation. Beirut’s port after the explosion, 5 August 2020 (EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH) It is hard to imagine a...

Students see headlines all day long and have a good sense of the big news events around the world. But when something happens far away, they don’t always understand why it matters to them, because they are young and also because harried real-time news outfits don’t always connect the dots. When a chemical explosion tore through Beirut in August, media organizations around the world flashed photographs, videos and headlines capturing the anguish and destruction. In 900 words, Alistair Lyon goes further, taking readers through Lebanon’s dire circumstances and explaining why it matters to all of us. No region of the world is more complex or more important than the Middle East, and Lyon — a former Middle East diplomatic correspondent for Reuters — offers an exemplary synthesis of the tangled forces at work in the volatile region.

Author: Alistair Lyon