Yemen's Failed Transition
On January 21st, the very day Yemen’s vaunted “conference of national dialogue” completed its ten months of work, assassins struck at two of its most prominent participants. Ahmed Sharaf el-Din, a lawyer for a movement representing the Houthis, a disaffected northern group, was shot dead on his way to the conference. Two hours later, Abdulwahab al-Ansi, secretary-general of the Islah party, Yemen’s main Islamist group, was not in his car when it was blown up, but his son was injured by the blast. These two acts of violence highlighted the country’s continuing instability.
The conference, which was meant, among other things, to make recommendations for a new constitution, concluded four months later than intended. Elections planned for next month have been indefinitely postponed. Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who in 2012 replaced a longtime dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, looks set to remain president for the foreseeable future. Members of the parliament formed a decade ago seem likely to keep their seats. In theory, a new constitution is the new priority. But stopping the present wave of violence is what people want most urgently.Hadi, as many will remember, was simply Saleh's vice president, though he was from the former South Yemen rather than the north like Saleh and on the opposide side of the country's civil war. Many believe Saleh continues to exercise power from exile behind the scenes through the Yemeni shadow state.