Cold war era ended in 1991. Close on its heels emerged a new phase of rivalry among big powers, which historians and political punditry deviously call New Great Game. In reality it is a long and ruthless rivalry between the US and the Russian Federation for controlling the new and vast hydrocarbon sources in Central Asia and the Caspian region. Did the collapse of the Soviet Union leave the lone super power really free to dictate terms of future course of world history? By a strange quirk of destiny, the nascent independent states of former Soviet Central Asia have assumed much more importance in the new scheme of things than what they enjoyed during the Soviet era.
As early as 1998, Clinton administration eyed Central Asian energy resources to offset over-sized dependence of the US and her western allies on energy supplies from the Gulf States. Big American oil cartel like Unocal rued the transportation of Turkmen (Daulatabad) gas across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Persian Gulf and invested quite a bit in surveying the pipeline route. They even initiated secret negotiations with the Taliban whom Washington had begun to befriend.