Conflicts between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the famous Silk Road city of Sarmarkand
In the previous post I ended with how in Hong Kong I have continued my prolonged relationship with Silk Road and Central Asia. Back then I was based in Uzbekistan in Central Asia, I had also frequently visited Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, but had never made it to Tajikistan. But as I joined in the new company, I became a constant visitor in Tajikistan due to business needs (although normally I would just be in Dushanbe).
Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan, and is located adjacent to my familiar Uzbekistan. Normally, I would imagine Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to be countries of rather similar ethnicities. But in fact, the two countries and ethnic groups are at daggers-drawn till forever. After the Soviet Union collapsed, relationships between these two have been under continuous aggravation, till the point that they would make each other’s life difficult by cutting off supplies of natural gas and fighting over water resources, omitting the fact that they have been neighbours in generations.
In a non-governmental perspective, the two ethnic groups also seem to be irreconcilably hostile to each other. My perceived understanding of the conflicts between Uzbeks and Tajiks would have to date back to the days when I worked at Uzbekistan. Those who rose about the topic (topic being the conflict between the two ethnicities) were normally not Uzbeks themselves, but the Tajiks residing inside the Republic Uzebkistan.
Man in a traditional Tajik dress
This happened most to me in Sarmarkand, the 2nd largest City of Uzbekistan. One can never be sure exactly how many Tajiks or how many Uzbeks the city has. The reason to this being, apparently, that the Uzbek government has been forcing residents of Tajik descendants to change their ethnicity over the years! Almost everytime when I accompanied somebody to Sarmakand for business or leisure, no matter it’s the local driver, tour guide or host, they always tred to find every single chance possible to inform me that they were Tajiks and not Uzbeks.
They would also love to add that Sarmakand, in fact, belonged to Tajiks and that all residents were Tajiks, but as it joined the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union did not put history under consideration when it came to drawing territories between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which had created many unresolved issues that have been affecting daily lives of locals till this day.
Mosque in the city of Sarmakand
The founding father of the empire, Timurid, married a lady from the Genghis Khan’s family, which made him eligible to inherit the throne of the country Western Chagatai Khanate. After Timurid became king, he changed the name of Western Chagatai Khanate into Timurid Empire.
Timurid Empire had dominated numbers of countries. The empire had become so huge that in its heyday, the territory covered West Asia, Central Asia and part of South Asia. Its realm reached as far as Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Timurid’s ambition to revive the Mongolian Empire had come to a halt as he died young, was yet another story.
Sarmakand, being the capital of the ancient Western Chagatai Khanate, has always been the crossroads of culture since more than two thousand years ago. A big portion of the population are Tajiks, who were seen as Turks in the Tang Dynasty, and Uzbeks during the Soviet Union era. Because of these complex historical roots, it seems as no surprises that Uzbeks and Tajiks are still fighting against each other and having disputes over ethnicities, resources and history today.
Tuesday, 15th September