Junaid Khan (Basmachi leader)

Junaid Khan
De facto (last) ruler of the State of Khorezm
In office
March 1918 – February 1920
MonarchSayid Abdullah
Personal details
Born1857 or 1862
Badirkent, Dashoguz, Khanate of Khiva
Died1938 (aged 76 or 81)
near Herat, Afghanistan
NationalityTurkmen Yomut tribe
  • Khojibay (father)
Military service
Years of service1912–1938
RankGeneral, Chief of the Armed forces

Junaid Khan (Muhammet-Kurban Serdar) (Turkmen: Jüneýit han; 1857–1938) was a military commander[1] from the Turkmen Yomud tribe who was the (last) de facto ruler of the State of Khorezm[2] from 1918 to 1920, Chief of the Armed Forces (Serdar-Kerim) of Khorezm during the tumultuous years after the Russian October Revolution.

Biography before 1917

Born in 1857 (according to other sources in 1862), Junaid Khan was the son of Khojibay, a powerful leader of the yomud (Turkmen) tribe[3] of Junaids and a wealthy man. Muhammet-Kurban himself, despite his illiteracy, also enjoyed relevant authority among his tribesmen, which allowed him to become first kazi (judge) in the village, then a water distributor (mirab).

Rise to power in Khiva

Flag used by the Khanate of Khiva during the civil war (1917–1922)[4]

In September 1917, after the overthrow of the government of young (revolutionary) Khivans, who had advocated reform and wished to limit the power of the Khan of Khiva (Khorezm), Asfandiyar Khan, Muhammet-Kurban Serdar arrived to the capital. By uniting previously warring Turkmen tribes and establishing close relations with Colonel Ivan Zaitsev [ru], the head of the detachment sent to Khiva by the Provisional Government of Russia, he became one of the most influential people in the Khanate.[5]

In January 1918, the ruler of Khiva, Asfandiyar Khan, appointed Muhammet-Kurban as the commander of the armed forces of the Khanate,[3] bestowing on him the title "Serdar-Karim" ("noble commander"). After Zaitsev's detachment from Khiva recaptured Tashkent from Bolsheviks and Left Social Revolutionaries, the Junaid Khan's detachment, numbering about 1,600 horsemen, became the main military force in the Khanate.

Dissatisfaction with Asfandiyar’s policy greatly increased in Khiva and in the spring of 1918, Junaid Khan organized a military coup, overthrew and put to death Asfandiyar and later seized power for himself almost without resistance. A relative of Asfandiyar Khan, Sayid Abdullah became a new (puppet) Khan.

Having defeated and expelled by mid-September 1918 his main adversaries in the Khanate – the Turkmen leaders of Koshmammet Khan, Gulam-ali, Shamyrat-Bakhshi – Muhammed-Kurban actually became the ruler of Khiva.[6]

Clashes with the Red Army

Operation to liquidate the remnants of Dzhunaid Khan's gangs in the Kara-Kum desert. May-June 1928

After the 1917 Bolshevik seizure of power in the October Revolution, anti-monarchists and Turkmen tribesmen joined forces with the Bolsheviks at the end of 1919 to depose the khan. By early February 1920, the Khivan army under Junaid Khan was completely defeated. On 2 February 1920, Khiva's last khan, Sayid Abdullah, abdicated and a short-lived Khorezm People's Soviet Republic (later the Khorezm SSR) was created out of the territory of the old Khanate of Khiva, before it was finally incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1924, with the former Khanate divided between the new Turkmen SSR and Uzbek SSR.

Junaid Khan later waged numerous wars for several years with the emerging Soviet Turkestan and later with constituent republics of Soviet Central Asia for different reasons: to keep Khiva independent from Soviet rule, to recapture lost territories of the Khanate during the years as Russian protectorate, as well as to accumulate wealth. Though initially some of his battles were successful, he lost the most important ones and finally fled first to Persia and then to Afghanistan where he eventually died in 1938.

See also


  • D. M. Abdullahanov: Tarki Dunyo, Tashkent 2009.


  1. ^ Rafis Abazov, "Historical Dictionary of Turkmenistan", pa. 27, The Spacecrow Press, Inc, 2005
  2. ^ Shoshana Keller. "To Moscow, Not Mecca", Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, p. 35
  3. ^ a b Shoshana Keller. "To Moscow, Not Mecca", Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, p. 34-35
  4. ^ After the original flag on display in the museum of Khiva. Described by J. Renault and H. Calvarin, Franciae Vexilla # 5/51 (April 1997), cited after Ivan Sache on the Khiva page at Flags of the World (FOTW). According to David Straub (1996) on FOTW Archived 27 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, "The flag of the Khivan Khanate in the pre-Soviet period is unknown."
  5. ^ Rafis Abazov, "Historical Dictionary of Turkmenistan", The Spacecrow Press, Inc, 2005
  6. ^ "History of Civilizations of Central Asia", Volume IV, p. 319

External links

  • "Russian Invasion (the end of the XIX century)"
  • "The dramatic end of Khiva"
  • Map of the Khanates of Bukhara, Khiva, and Khokand and Part of Russian Turkistan from 1875 by Eugene Schuyler
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