Yemen — even given the best possible of governments — would not be a well functioning state.
And Yemen has not got the best of all possible governments. It has the corrupt rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for over 40 years, and unwilling to let go.
President Saleh has not been seen in public since he was wounded on June 3, in an attack on his palace which left him with burns and shrapnel wounds. He left the country to be treated in Saudi Arabia, declaring he would soon be back.
Saleh had just backed away from an attempt to negotiate a transition of power with the coalition which has led peaceful demonstrations for democracy in the capital, Sanaa.
Yemen is being pulled apart by a series of insurgencies: tribal, southern, Islamist and sectarian.
The US and the neighbouring Gulf states are increasingly alarmed at the instability, and the possibility for Yemen to become a new haven for al-Qaeda.
Last weekend 12 fighters reported by government officials to be linked to Ansar al-Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Sharia Law) are reported to have been killed in gun battles with the Yemeni army in the southern city of Zinjibar. The army is fighting to regain the town.
Opposition supporters accuse the government of exaggerating the threat from al-Qaeda to win political support from the US.