is sponsoring negotiations in Ashgabat between Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement and its opponents. The United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan is also involved. While Russia has taken an increasingly hard line against the Taliban (a leading force in the resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan twenty years ago), Turkmenistan would be content to see the Taliban in full control of a pacified Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan could help Turkmenistan develop routes through Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan that would bring Turkmen gas to world markets without passing through Russian pipelines. Without such an alternative, Turkmenistan is at the mercy of Russia’s Gazprom monopoly, its only accessible customer.