THE SITUATION in Yemen is as complex as it is dangerous. With the president in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, a power vacuum looms, with a bewildering array of forces competing to fill it: the remains of his regime, opposition political parties, youthful pro-democracy protesters, renegade generals, tribal leaders and Islamic extremists. If the Obama administration and European and Arab allies are fumbling for a strategy, they have good reason to be. But there is at least a starting point on which all should be able to agree: Ali Abdullah Saleh should not be allowed to return to Yemen unless he definitively gives up the presidency — and maybe not even then.
Though unfortunate for the 69-year-old Mr. Saleh, the relative good news may be that his medical condition could by itself ensure his indefinite exile. His supporters initially said he was only lightly injured in an apparent bombing in a mosque last Friday, but U.S. officials later reported that he suffered extensive burns and a head injury, and that fragments of wood were embedded in his body.