Yemen needs clear presidential authority
But resistance to reform is being led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who maintains an office in Sana’a. His ousting last year included immunity from prosecution but did not ban him from politics, so he feels free to receive government ministers who regularly check with him on what they should do, despite him being out of office and having nothing to do with the government.
A dangerous example of his lingering influence is how his son, Ahmad Ali Saleh, is still commander of the Republican Guards, a crack force of nearly 90,000 troops. The opposition has asked that he be relieved of duty in return for their participation in the National Dialogue Conference in November. When President Hadi tried to move the command of units of the Republican Guards to be directly under his authority, the move was resisted and hundreds of Commander Saleh’s supporters surrounded the Ministry of Defence.
While this dangerous failure of governance continues, the security situation is getting much worse. An Al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed 45 people at a funeral last week in the southern city of Jaar as he targeted the tribesmen that sided with the army in an offensive against Al-Qaeda in Abyan.
Yemen needs a strong central government to save it from becoming a failed state. The lack of authority from President Hadi is a symptom of the general situation in Yemen. A useful start would be to remove former President Saleh from anywhere near power, and ask him to go into exile, which would at least give Yemen a clear line of presidential authority.