President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen left his country on Saturday night to receive medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after being injured by a bomb blast inside his presidential compound. The blast killed eleven of his body guards and injured five senior government officials. “Thousands of people danced and sang and slaughtered cows in the streets of the capital Sanaa yesterday as news spread that Yemen had joined Tunisia and Egypt in ousting a widely detested leader who had controlled the state for decades.” The ultimate test for Yemen will be whether Saleh is able to return to his post.
What’s the Big Idea?
Has the Arab Spring toppled its third despot? If so, a political vacuum in Yemen may prove the most volatile in the Middle East. Generally considered the most backwards country in the region, both economically and socially, Western officials both welcome the departure of Saleh and worry about the instability his exit may aggravate. Currently, Western officials are offering Saleh financial guarantees and immunity from prosecution as long as he does not return. It remains to be seen whether his family, including his son, two nephews and two half brothers, all of whom control military units, will be enough to sustain the government.