There is a consensus among Yemenis that the first 90 days of the transition period, ending with the holding of early presidential elections on 21 February, will be the most difficult compared with the overall transition period, the first and second phases of which extend for two years and three months and are scheduled to end in February 21, 2014. The concern of Yemenis over the ninety days is based on their worries about President Ali Abdullah Saleh's trustworthiness and seriousness to smoothly transfer power to the Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who will be the only candidate for presidency under the operational mechanism of the GCC Initiative admitted by the international community and Yemeni parties concerned to have higher power than the Constitution.
The Initiative is now dominating Constitution, or rather it has become as a constitutional declaration practically governing and amending the Constitution; a transitional period cannot be established without a constitutional declaration. Although the first transitional phase is not long in time scale, everyone is aware that it will be – in terms of tension, anxiety, intrigues and laying political mines – much longer than the past eleven months that witnessed on 15 January the first sparks of the popular youth revolution against President Saleh's regime. Expected obstacles to thwart or delay the power transfer are many and varied, and crumbling power of President Saleh will place as much obstacles as they can, will use various cards they still have in their hands in a desperate attempt to prolong survival in power and will, at the same time, shift the responsibility for obstruction onto the JMP.
At the top of such cards is the presidential mosque bombing that affected Saleh and a number of his leading officials on June 3. It was already announced that results of investigation into the incident would be disclosed at the end of last September, but postponed. It seems that postponement had been thoughtfully adopted until it was announced, before the signing of Gulf Initiative, that the file of the incident has been remited to the Public Prosecution, which in turn is supposed to conduct investigations accordingly. Last week, government leaks were publicized that the Prosecution would announce coercive warrant to arrest people mentioned in the investigations, including, according to leaks, the commander of the First Armored Division, pro-revolutionary youth Major Ali Mohsen Saleh, and renowned businessman Hamid al-Ahmar, son of the late leader of the Islah Party Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar. These projections are supported by what President Saleh said about the attack in his speech immediately after signing the Gulf Initiative in Riyadh and then in Sana'a speech at a meeting with leaders of his party after the sudden return from Saudi Arabia.
In the above-mentioned two speeches, President Ali Abdullah Saleh had a rare opportunity to introduce himself as a historic leader leaving government and although delivering a conciliatory tolerance-toned speech through which he turns over a new leaf of Yemen's history, wishes his deputy success during the transitional period and when he is elected as his successor president, hopes the new government composed of members from his party and the opposition to accomplish many tasks that his governments failed to, and pays tribute to his young sons millions of whom came out against him in different parts of Yemen demanding change and assures them that they are the fruit of democracy he pursued during his reign and that he is proud of them, instead of talking about conspiracies on the his regime, as plots cannot be hatched by millions. Nonetheless, he has insisted on recalling wounds and the presidential mosque incident ignoring – though he is supposed to be president for all Yemenis – to make even a passing reference to the hundreds of peaceful unarmed youth killed by his regime since the youth revolution began in Sana'a, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah and other Yemeni cities, as if their blood is valueless for him. I believe that the international community is aware of the lean regime's real intentions and realizes that it is seeking to block the transitional phase. Therefore, if this regime opens the file of presidential mosque accident, it will find itself concerned and compelled to issue a UN resolution to open an international neutral and binding investigation of all violent incidents that took place in Yemen since the beginning of the youth revolution, including the presidential mosque accident, and certainly investigations will not entirely serve the interest of this regime, will not change any of the details of the Gulf Initiative and its operational mechanism, and will not delay the transfer of power in Yemen through the early presidential elections to be held on 21 February, which the international community would not allow to be postponed, because the international will has been determined in the direction of President Saleh's exit from power.
Some talk about fears that President Saleh would attempt to exercise any actual authority after the early presidential elections through his continual leadership of General People's Congress party, being backed by the fact that his son and other relatives will stay in their security and military positions and the huge patronage network he created for many economic and political leaders in the country. Of course, this is possible in case of fears by President-elect and the national reconciliation Government of being unable to exercise full powers, given the leaks that were passed last week to a number of Arab newspapers that the Saleh's son will retain the leadership of the Republican Guard during the next two years in return for Major Ali Mohsen Saleh retains the leadership of the First Armored Division. While this is not unlikely, it certainly will not create any stability in Yemen and will mean that the youth revolution will continue to escalate as long as Saleh and his relatives have any influence no matter how simple.
More serious, this is likely to lead JMP to lose control on peaceful revolution, since the Yemeni youth as seeing Arab spring countries whose revolutions preceded or coincided with their moving towards stability and civil state would not accept abortion of their dreams to have a civil state. This is particularly true as youths are well aware that such a state cannot be established if Saleh and his relatives and soldiers still have the slightest influence on Yemen, and because they realize that the Gulf Initiative and its operational mechanism have achieved half of their victory and caused only half the defeat of President Saleh and his relatives – a situation they accepted reluctantly, as entire implementation of the operational mechanism over the next two years will bring about the complete victory, which they wanted to achieve immediately.
Therefore, ninety days, or rather the remainder thereof, will be critical in shaping the second phase of the transition period and beyond.