After today...

This post will be updated throughout the day today, as things unfold, but I want to throw out a few thoughts and questions about the coming transition before it is upon us.

'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh's last two televised speeches have not sounded like the words of a man ready to board a flight to Riyadh. But then, neither did Mubarak's final speech suggest his impending surrender. I'm not optimistic enough by nature to accept the rumors that he'll be gone by Saturday, but it does seem possible.

So what then? 'Ali Muhsin is a butcher, but could he possibly be a butcher with a soft spot for democracy? Or will he make himself a "temporary" military ruler, like the last three?

And the opposition: the JMP exists because of Saleh; when he's gone, what need will there be for such an odd coalition? Islah, however, gains legitimacy among the non-Islamist, non-tribal public because of the other parties in the bloc, and the Socialists, were they to take the only other viable route and style themselves as the party of the South, would be deemed counterrevolutionaries. So maybe they're all still better off together.

But what of the GPC? It won't be the "ruling party" anymore, but it could still be a party. And let's not forget that it is no less a coalition of strange bedfellows than the JMP.  

The biggest question for me, though, is about the army. Already there are obvious fractures between different commands and units in what has been the bedrock of Saleh's rule, but such divisions have been overcome in the interest of national survival (and personal survival, for many) a few times in the history of the republic. The real question is whether the military, and the generals who profit from their positions in it, are willing to exist as a national institution subordinate to a civilian government, something that hasn't truly been the case since the early 1970s, if then. A transitional government can't run the country without the army's consent, but will the generals really consent to their own disenfranchisement?

As of yet I have no answers. Hopefully we'll get at least one today.