About 1.3 million Uzbek live mingled with the Tajik all across the northernplains of Afghanistan, from Faryab Province to Faizabad, capital of BadakhshanProvince. There are many mixed Uzbek and Tajik villages, although each live inseparate residential quarters. In 1983 a sizeable group of Uzbek were includedamong the group of 4,000 Turkic speakers from Afghanistan that were resettled inTurkey. Uzbek also reside north of the Afghan border in Uzbekistan, Tajikstanand Turkmenistan.

The Uzbek are Mongoloid with considerable Mediterranean admixture. They areSunni Muslim and speak central Turkic dialects called Uzbeki. Uzbek practiceagriculture and herding, but many live in towns where they are known as astutebusinessmen and skillful artisans as silver and goldsmiths, leatherworkers, andrug makers.

Some Afghan Uzbek refer to themselves by old tribal names; others identifywith their towns of origin in Central Asia. Uzbek social structure is strictlypatriarchal, giving considerable authoritarian power to leaders called begs,arbabs or khans. Marital endogamy is of prime importance.Although interethnic marriages between Uzbek, Turkoman and Tajik do take place,antipathy to marriage with Pushtun is widespread.

Afghan Uzbek originally came from Central Asia and their rise as the dominantpolitical force in north Afghanistan followed the demise in 1506 of the Timuriddynasty centered at Herat. They established eleven strong principalities fromMaimana to Kunduz under strong leaders, sometimes independent, sometimesnominally acknowledging allegiance to either Bokhara or Kabul, but alwaysjockeying for power among themselves.

At the end of the nineteenth century Amir Abdur Rahman consolidated theseUzbak khanates under his rule. Later, fresh immigrations took place in the 1920sand 1930s as Russian conquests and local uprisings in Central Asia continued.During this same period many Pushtun settled among the Uzbeks with the resultthat by the 1960s the Uzbek had become a small minority within the area theyonce dominated. Since 1992, the Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostom, principalleader of the coalition opposing the Taliban, has controlled the predominantcenters of power in the north.

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