Clans in Central Asia

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Clans in Central Asia are political networks based on regional and tribal loyalties. Clans frequently control certain government departments, though there is fluidity between clan loyalty and membership in government agencies.[1] The people of Central Asia self-identified by their clans prior to Russian expansion in the 19th century. Ethnic identity did not come into play until as late as the 1980s during glasnost.[2]



There are three "wings", or groups of clans, that control the Government of Kyrgyzstan: the Ong or "right", the Sol or "left", and the Ichkilik.

  • There are seven clans in Sol, which is based in northern and western Kyrgyzstan, including the Sarybagysh clan, and the Buguu clan which controlled the Kirgiz SSR until the Great Purge of the 1930s. Kyrgyz political leaders have come from the Sarybagysh clan since the rule of Joseph Stalin. In 1990 the clan used its influence to ensure Askar Akayev became the Secretary of the Kyrgyz Communist Party instead of southerner Absamat Masaliyev. Until the Tulip Revolution of 2005 the Sarybagysh clan had control over the ministries of finance, internal affairs, foreign affairs, state security and the presidential staff.[3]
  • The Ong group consists of one clan, the Adygine, based in the south.
  • The Ichkilik is also a southern grouping, but has non-ethnic Kyrgyz members.


The most powerful clan in Uzbekistan is the Samarkand clan, which has traditionally controlled the Interior Ministry; Uzbek President Islam Karimov was a member of the Samarkand clan, which is based in Samarkand, Bukhara, Dzhizak and Navoi, and is allied with the weaker Jizak clan. The Tashkent clan, which controls the National Security Service (SNB), is allied with the Ferghana clan (sometimes considered to be the same clan), and the Khorezm clan which is based in Khorezm and southern Karakalpakistan. The Tashkent clan is based in Tashkent and in Ferghana, Andijan and Namangan through its alliance. [1][4][5]