by Patrick Appel

Dana Stuster's reading of the situation:

There are no good options in Yemen.

As long as Salih retains his tenuous hold on power, the United States will be forced to deal with an autocrat, but then again, he always has been. Yemenis call their brand of politics “decorative democracy,” a façade which was only instated in an effort by Salih to regain American aid. Now, though, Yemen is an integral part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts and cannot be neglected as it has been in the past. Salih knows that his place is assured – it’s the confidence that allowed him to propose the abolition of term limits in the first place. The State Department will have another couple years of the same fair-weather ally they’ve come to know, but it will only postpone an inevitable transition. None of the candidates to succeed Salih seem conciliatory to U.S. interests, and it will not be enough to hope that Yemen’s coming resource crisis will force the prospective Islah Party government or al Ahmar military regime into a dialogue. The United States needs to start making friends now, especially outside of Sanaa, with local and tribal leaders. The tribes are a constant in Yemen; the government, after a 30-some year hiatus, is about to be a lot less so.

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