Title: Withering Branch:The Story of Afrin and its Peoples, Pre & Post “Operation Olive Branch”
Author: Dominic Brunaccioni
Publisher: Washington Kurdish Institute
Release date: March 2022
The city of Afrin (Kurdish: Efrîn, Syriac: ܥܦܪܝܢ, Arabic: عفرين (is the administrative center of the Afrin District, as part of the Aleppo Governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic. As a historical region, Afrin has been traveled through and managed by many different nations, empires, and states. Whether hosting a monument for the generals of Alexander the Great, or as a Roman military base to counter the ancient Armenian Empire, Afrin has witnessed decades of history and culture. But the most defining feature of the city is its entrenched history with the olive oil tree, which some archeologists believe have existed in Afrin for more than 4,000 years. Olive oil farming is a historical practice in Afrin and continues to be a dominating factor of the city’s market.Starting as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, historians and leaders began to record a newly arrived ethnic group in the area of Afrin, the Kurdish people. As centuries continued, Kurdish people began to represent a growing population connected to Afrin, so much so that Ottoman officials began to recognize Afrin as “The Kurdish City.” With the eventual fall of the Ottoman Empire and the signing of Sykes-Picot in 1923, Afrin fell under the jurisdiction of French-Administered Syria, and had relatively normal population and economic growth throughout the changing politics between France and Syria throughout the 19th century, including decades after Syria’s independence from France in 1941, save for small sparks of ethnic tension between Arabs and Kurds. This period of stability would continue throughout the proceeding Syrian.