In his seminal work on the Turko-Persian tradition, Canfield (1991) focuses on broad historical trends and demonstrates how analytically fruitful it can be to look globally at the area where Iranian and Turkic languages are predominant. In the past and present days, this region of the world has been characterized by the development of large polities but also by the pregnancy of local factionalism. My goal here is to show the multi-layered logic informing political games in specific settings. Among the Hazaras of central Afghanistan, who are my case study, people form temporary alliances in their effort to secure resources, and they dissolve them as social, political, and economic opportunities change. During periods of conflict, members of solidarity groups strategically diversify their political affiliations in order to always have someone on the winning side. In the course of its history, the Hazarajat has repeatedly been the stage of dramatic events. Between 1891 and 1893, the emir of Kabul, Abdur Rahman, attacked the region in a campaign that featured massacres and atrocities (Kakar 1973; Mousavi 1998; Poladi 1989). From then on, the Hazaras, who have the disadvantage of being both a religious and ethnic minority (they are Shiites, while the majority of the Afghan population is Sunni), were socially, politically, and economically marginalized. In the conflicts following 1978, Hazarajat was spared the worst effects of the war, but deep inner tensions altered social relationships among Hazaras (Grevemeyer 1988; Harpviken 1996; Monsutti 1999, 2005). At first, the former tribal chiefs (mirs) and religious elites (sayyeds) were replaced by young religious leaders-often of modest origin-trained in Iran. Then, after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, most existing Hazara groups joined the newly created Hezb-e Wahdat, a party which developed political claims based on ethnicity without abandoning the reference to Shiism. These changes were suddenly interrupted and a new period of exclusion was begun when the Taliban took control of the Hazarajat in autumn 1998. Now, with the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and the institution of a democratic process (two loya jirgas in 2002 and 2003-4, presidential and legislative elections in 2004 and 2005), the political participation of the Hazaras at the governmental level seems to be more important than ever.