I’m in the process of writing an After Ali Abdulalh Saleh piece, and it’s coming along the slow coach! Here are some very brief thoughts.
Many within Yemen and without fear who or what comes after Saleh. The regime would like one of its own to replace Ali Saleh – perhaps General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar or the President’s son Ahmed. But this looks highly unlikely now.
Certain powerful tribal figures would like to replace Ali Saleh but will keep a close eye on what’s to come. So far, they have run with opposition and the popular youth uprising.
A radical Opposition exists within Yemen: Abd al-Malik al-Huthi (leader of the revivalist Zaydis in the north) or Ali Salim al-Baydh (former President of the socialist PDRY). Neither of these extreme options would go down well with the majority of Yemenis.
What remains is the Joint Meeting Party – a large and disparate opposition grouping of politicians, scholars, lawyers, educated tribal elements, and respected army figures. Through their diverse and technocratic make-up; they have the potential to save Yemen, to participate in a national unity dialogue leading to free and fair elections.
When I told a Yemeni friend of mine I was writing a post-Ali Saleh comment, he said “Just ask the question: how many murdered citizens does it take to make a good or bad dictator? Ali Saleh must go!” And a Yemeni activist implored me to: “present it in a positive way to motivate people and give them hope, a hope they never had in the past”.