In this Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, Syrian army soldiers fire their weapons during a battle with rebel fighters at the Ramouseh front line, east of Aleppo, Syria. 

Civil warcraft: Part II

Critical State

In this week’s Critical State, a weekly foreign policy newsletter by Inkstick Media, Kelsey D. Atherton takes a deep dive into insurgency and counterinsurgency in urban warfare.

A man carries an elderly woman as people continue to leave Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. 

Managing the aftermath: Part I

Critical State
A Syrian grocery shop in Istanbul sells brands that are familiar to Syrian customers, such as canned meats and condensed milk.

Syrian refugees and migrants in Turkey face a difficult decision to return home 

A woman votes for President Bashar al-Assad

Displaced Syrians in Turkey say Syria’s elections are a sham

(Clockwise from top left) Meklit Hadero in red lighting, Sinkane stsnding in front of wooden wall, Diana Gameros standing in front of a brick wall and Hello Psychaleppo looking down at a keyboard.

Four musicians grapple with the same question: What is home?

Several Syria soldiers are shown walking alongside and riding on a tank in a dirt road.

Syrian forces consolidate control of Aleppo, air strikes under way


Government air strikes have hit hospitals and displaced persons camps in northwest Syria and killed about 300 civilians as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces press an assault against the last rebel stronghold, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Mother, father and baby pose outside for a photo in wooded area

‘For Sama’: A love letter from filmmaker to daughter on life and war in Aleppo

Waad al-Kateab decided to film her own life in Aleppo continously for five years, in which she fell in love, married a doctor, gave birth, and survived the months-long siege, airstrikes and snipers, while living in an upper floor of the last hospital in the city.  

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Baghdadi’s death is a huge blow to ISIS, but history suggests it won’t guarantee a safer world

Common sense would suggest the world is indeed now a much safer place with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s passing. Unfortunately, however, there is no guarantee this will prove to be true in practice. 

A man is shown walking in front of a metro stop in Istanbul at dusk with the long shadow of several other people on the wall.

Turkey denies deporting refugees to Syria. Activists say they’ve sent back thousands.

Turkish officials claim that the government has not forcibly deported Syrians in a widespread campaign to crack down on illegal migration in recent weeks.

Syrian children

For Syrian refugee children in Turkey, a ‘home with dignity’ is hard to find

Conflict & Justice

For refugees, it’s hard to access mental health and guidance, and even for those who do manage to get enrolled in school, the education system itself struggles to cope with the trauma that young Syrians carry into the classroom.