The president's month-long absence has left the capital in a precarious stalemate, with Yemeni leaders unsure of what comes next
A lethargic and visibly burned Saleh appears on Yemeni state TV / Reuters
One month ago, Yemen seemed ready to collapse. The reconciliation deal advanced by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States to end the political crisis had fallen through once again after Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused, at the last moment, to sign it. What followed was two weeks of violence pitting Saleh and his remaining loyalist military forces against Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar, the head of the Hashid Tribal Federation, the most powerful tribal organization in the country. The diverse coalition that made up what is now a nearly six-month-long protest movement was fracturing under the stress of being pulled in too many directions. On June 3, a bomb detonated in Saleh's private mosque, severely wounding him and killing several senior members of his government. Within 48 hours, Saleh was in Saudi Arabia for emergency medical treatment.
Then, on the cusp of civil war, nothing happened.
Today, Yemen's political situation remains in critical condition, but has maintained a fragile stasis since Saleh's departure. "Tenuous" is the word of the moment, in describing the ceasefire between the tribes and the government, the relations between the factions within the opposition movement, and the understanding between Saleh's vice president, Abd Rabu Mansur Hadi, and Saleh's son, Ahmed, who commands Yemen's Republican Guard forces. There has been some movement: the United States has resuscitated the thrice-failed and severely flawed reconciliation deal and the political opposition is discussing forming a transitional government on its own to circumvent Saleh. For the moment, though, all factions in Sanaa seem to be waiting on Saleh's next move.