In 1216 CE, a detachment of Mongols pursued the leader of the neighboring Naiman tribe, a certain Küchlüg, who had the misfortune of allying with Jamukha, the principle rival of Genghis Khan. The Mongol leader deployed 30,000 troops to track down this troublesome renegade. By 1218, Küchlüg had fled south towards the Pamir Mountains in modern-day Afghanistan. Eventually, the Mongol general Jebe caught up with Küchlüg and executed him. It was this two-year event that inadvertently brought the Mongols into Central Asia. Their conquest was not initially intended to create an empire. Yet, over time, the area was absorbed, adopted, and integrated by the Mongols.
Central Asia displayed a remarkable ability to embrace foreign influences, such as the Turkic migrations, expansion of Islam, and Mongol conquest, internalizing them and making them its own. Situated at the crossroads of many empires, Central Asia was tucked in between the Chinese, Europeans, Arabs, and Indians. There, just along the Great Silk Road, the region connected the Orient to the Occident and shaped the course of its history.