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Yemen’s Unraveling

By William Tucker

Yemen is not a failed state, but it is failing. This doesn’t mean that the state is facing an imminent collapse, but it does mean that Yemen is in trouble. Before the massive uprising that gripped the country over the last year, Yemen was in dismal shape and the situation in the country has now deteriorated to the point that the writ of the state doesn’t extend beyond the limits of Sana’a. Granted, there is a functioning parliament, however, that doesn’t translate into effective governance. That is, neither the executive or the legislature can enforce the will of the government. Currently, most of Yemen is in chaos and the opposition hasn’t yet created a functional alternative to what the Saleh regime has left behind. Simply removing the president, who has already left the country, will not solve Yemen’s problems.

Back in August several opposition groups managed to cobble together a transitional council of sorts to better challenge President Saleh while he convalesced in Saudi Arabia. It was a good start, but in all honesty, it took far to long to accomplish. Now that Saleh is gone, perhaps permanently, presidential polls must take place despite the chaos. For the transitional council this is vital as al-Qaeda has been busy exploiting the vacuum resulting from the uprising. Some claim that Saleh allowed al-Qaeda to seize a few smaller cities as a way to play up the terrorist threat and once again earn patronage from the west, but frankly that doesn’t matter. Al-Qaeda is using the chaos for its own designs, and if Saleh enabled that, it would not have changed the dynamic. For Yemen’s new transitional council to succeed it must move to ensure the presidential polls take place as scheduled. The violence may threaten those exercising their vote, but it would fail to compare to the violence that would occur should any transition in government be postponed.

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