WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Earlier this week, the Taliban confirmed it had appointed Haibatullah Akhundzada as its new leader to replace Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan over the weekend.
"It shows that they [Taliban] realize their long delay in replacing Mullah Omar was counterproductive," Bucci told Sputnik on Thursday.
Mansour had been the Taliban's top commander since the Afghan government confirmed Mullah Omar’s death in July 2015. Afghan officials said Mullah Omar actually died in Pakistan in April 2013.
At this point, Bucci noted, no one knows how Akhundzada will move forward and it is too soon to tell how it will affect Taliban operations, although new leadership has certain near-term tendencies.
"New leaders tend to be aggressive, at least initially, to prove themselves."
On Thursday, private intelligence firm Soufan Group said in a report that Akhundzada’s ascendance will not improve the prospects for peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul.
The US Defense Department told Sputnik on Wednesday that the appointment of Akhundzada as the new leader of the Taliban will not interfere with US efforts to achieve reconciliation between the group and the government of Afghanistan.