The rocky political landscape of Yemen is all too often simplified as a matter of tribal feuding, of sectarianism, or of complete patrimonialism. While each of these elements plays an important role in the workings of the Yemeni political sphere, none can explain the puzzle on its own. With the fall of Saleh, a critical eye must be turned to the past and present of Yemeni politics in order to assess the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. For the Islah Party, which dominates the political opposition, a new freedom for real reform may have arrived, but must be carefully negotiated in the context of the many factions within the opposition.
The General People’s Congress (GPC), long only a legitimizer and tool of former president Saleh himself, must decide what their role is to be in a new Yemen. Meanwhile, tension between the central government and the Houthis in the north and the Hirak secessionist movement in the South remain at the forefront of domestic concerns. Finally, the networks and operatives of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) maintain an ambiguous relationship to the central Yemeni state and long were used as a rhetorical threat by the former regime.