June 3's explosion in Yemen's Nahdain Mosque -- whether a mortar, rocket, or planted bomb -- more seriously wounded Ali Abdullah Saleh than initial reports indicated. The BBC reports that the Yemeni president, who is now convalescing in Saudi Arabia, "suffered 40% burns and has bleeding inside his skull"; according to a Western official quoted by the New York Times, "His face was quite charred" and "he is not as well as his aides are portraying it."
The blast also blew apart Yemen's political landscape yet again. The Americans and the Saudis are quickly trying to refashion the pieces to their liking before Saleh gets back on his feet. Among the biggest obstacles are the spoiled children of Saleh and the late Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar, the two most powerful men in Yemen for the last 30 years.
Yemen is headed for elections at some point, but the key question is: Who will oversee them? Although he promised to step down in 2013, Saleh planned to remain as head of the ruling party in any future elections. Since February he has said that he and his son Ahmed would be ineligible for the presidency, but remaining head of the ruling party would guarantee him a leading role in Yemeni politics and ensure that his sons and nephews would remain in top positions in the military and security forces.
The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), the coalition of political parties negotiating for the opposition, wants Saleh and his extended family that runs the security forces out of the country, and it wanted total control of the transitional government that would carry out elections. Islah, which dominates the JMP, is a broad party that includes the top leadership of the Hashid tribal confederation represented by Ahmar's sons, various religiously oriented groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, and finally large merchants who are against socialists (though the Yemeni Socialist Party is the second most important party in the JMP).
Before the current unrest, the 10 sons of Ahmar, who died in 2007, were spread throughout the top leadership of Saleh's government and the formal opposition. The oldest son, Sadeq al-Ahmar, is the new paramount sheikh of the Hashid, which for years formed the backbone of Saleh's tribal support. Hussein al-Ahmar was head of Saleh's ruling party, and another Ahmar son was the president's key bodyguard. Himyar al-Ahmar is vice speaker of parliament. Hamid al-Ahmar is thought to be one of the richest and most ambitious men in Yemen, and he has long had his eye on the presidency. Alone among the Ahmar sons, he called for Saleh's ouster many years ago.