One thing that is apparent in President Hadi’s first few days in power is that he is using his position to truly make change in Yemen. He has already made a brave decree to appoint a new governor in Aden and has dismissed one of the strongest military commanders loyal to Saleh. These decisions have provoked both excitement and anger from Yemen’s many political sides. With emotions at their peak, these changes come with great risk as one wrong decision could seemingly bring Yemen back to the beginning of 2011.
However, we must not measure Hadi’s ability or judgment after just one decision. Instead, we must take a long-term, holistic approach in how we evaluate, and react, to the new president. Justice, particularly during this transitional phase, cannot be fully obtained without two things: time and full support of all Yemenis.
Time is particularly important. Hadi needs a buffer, or an experimental phase, so he can navigate and learn how best to bring Yemen into the future during the next two years. Even with Hadi’s extensive knowledge of Yemen’s government, such unprecedented times have created an incredibly steep learning curve that no one can master on day one. By giving him the time and space he needs, Yemen can become an ideal post-revolutionary model for the rest of an impatient Arab world.
The success of Yemen does not rely solely on Hadi alone, but on the shared resolve by all Yemenis and their government officials. Yemenis are quick to pin their hopes on Hadi alone and overlook the importance of other, sometimes unknown, actors in Yemen’s government. Nowhere else is this more relevant than the current struggle to restructure the highly fragmented military.
While a decision by Hadi to dismiss a general is integral to any change, it is more important that other officials, and other generals support that decision as what is best for Yemen’s future. If generals or politicians immediately balk at the decision, Yemen can quickly fracture and return to civil war. Therefore, the decisions Hadi makes are rarely made alone. Accordingly, the country must support these decisions, and provide the necessary space to see their outcome.
The challenges of change that Hadi faces are immense. With each passing period of this stage in Yemen’s revolution, the challenges are only going to become harder. But By giving Hadi time, and ensuring the all Yemeni’s support him throughout the entirety of the two-year term, many of Yemen’s insurmountable challenges can be met.