Once dismissed as an empty suit, Hadi, was thrust into the center of the storm as a relative unknown. Since he took power he has surprised some pessimists by his willingness to challenge allies of the former president. Others hope that Hadi's governance style suggests a move away from the heavily centralized rule of his predecessor. And, notably, after nearly a year in office, Hadi has retained the backing of many Yemenis and the bulk of the country's political establishment, including many fierce opponents of his predecessor.
"There is progress," said Hamid al-Ahmar, a prominent tribal leader and Islah politician who has long been one of the former president's most outspoken critics. "We believe that Hadi today is leading the country, and he is leading the revolution."
Such talk notwithstanding, the divisions within Yemen's elite linger on. The key task of military restructuring still has a long way to go. Ahmed Ali, Saleh's son, as well as General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a former regime strongman who is viewed as close to the Islamist Islah party (the largest component of the JMP), still retain control of many of the nation's troops.
Meanwhile, even as many Yemenis have yearned for technocratic governance, the cabinet has proven a deeply partisan body. The government's paralysis amid mutual distrust has underscored the seemingly intractable nature of divisions between the country's leaders. Far from healing, the deep wounds splitting Yemen's political establishment have continued to fester, echoed by a divisive media climate that often seems to present competing spheres of reality.
Over a year after the agreement on the transfer of power, the hard work of the transitional period has arguably yet to begin. Attention has shifted to the upcoming conference of "National Dialogue," a key step in the transitional roadmap outlined in the implementation mechanism of the GCC agreement. The National Dialogue's stated goal is to provide an inclusive forum for representatives of a range of groups -- political factions as well as youth, women, and members of civil society -- to draft a new social contract for post-Saleh Yemen, sketching out the shape of the future Yemeni state and setting out the means for drafting a new constitution. Anticipation is high, and the consequences of failure could be dire. The president himself has warned that the failure of the National Dialogue could likely lead to Yemen's descent into a civil war.
According to the most optimistic forecasts, the National Dialogue conference could begin before the end of the year. The dialogue's preparatory committee has nearly completed its work, and both members and observers have characterized its deliberations as productive and largely respectful, despite the historical enmity between many of the factions represented. But the dialogue's success is far from assured. And while an Arab Spring-inspired uprising ultimately set into motion the events let lead to the end of Saleh's time in power, pre-2011 conflicts and power struggles continue to cast a heavy shadow over the transitional process.