The Samarkand clan (alternatively Samarqand) is an Uzbek clan led by Ismoil Jurabekov. The clan is one of two major clans in Uzbekistan; the other, its main rival, is the Tashkent clan. To a lesser extent, the Ferghana clan is also a rival. Current Uzbek President Islam Karimov comes from the Samarkand clan.
In contemporary Uzbekistan, tribes no longer exist. Modern Uzbek clans either operate at the family level or at the national level. The term "clan" today usually refers to patronage networks created by marriage or friendship. Some prefer to call the groups "factions".
Ismoil Jurabekov, the head of the Samarkand clan, is known as "the Gray Cardinal" because of his role in bringing Islam Karimov to power. However, by 1993, Karimov began to restrict the power of the Samarkand clan. Karimov's patronage to the Samarkand had been causing discontent among the others clans, and he wished to stop this resentment to prevent revolt.
In the following years, he continued to weaken the power of all clans in the country. Jurabekov became an adviser to Karimov, but was ousted in 2004 after criminal allegations were made against him, in a move thought to strengthen the rival Tashkent clan. Jurabekov had previously been one of the most powerful men in the country.
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