JNN 04 June 2011 Sana : The Yemeni youth celebrate what they call the fall of the regime after Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia on the pretext of receiving medical treatment for his injuries.
“Today, Yemen is newborn,” chanted dozens of youths in Change Square, AFP reported on Sunday.
“This is it, the regime has fallen,” they chanted.
Saleh arrived in Saudi Arabia late Saturday along with several other top Yemeni officials, including the speakers of both houses of parliament and the deputy prime minister, to be treated for wounds they suffered in a rocket attack on the presidential palace on Friday.
Saleh flew to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday on a medical plane to have an operation after being hit by shrapnel three inches (7.6cm) below the heart in a rocket attack on the presidential compound on Friday.
It appears the injuries are not life-threatening – sources in Saudi Arabia said Mr Saleh walked off the plane, though wounds to his head face and neck were clearly visible.
Mr Saleh and several senior officials were at the al-Nahdayn mosque inside the presidential compound in the south of Sanaa on Friday afternoon at the time of the attack.
The mosque was originally thought to have been hit by rockets, but there are now suggestions someone may have planted a bomb there.
Government officials have accused armed tribesmen allied to Mr Saleh’s opponents of carrying out the attack which killed seven people, but they have denied it. An analyst close to President Saleh has suggested that Friday’s attack was a bomb planted by a member of Saleh’s own people but it’s hard to confirm.
Yemen’s acting president – previously the vice-president who under the constitution replaces Mr Saleh in his absence – Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has taken over, including command of the armed forces and security services
Many analysts say it is unlikely that Saleh will return, which means his son Ahmed will try to seize power following his father’s three-decade-long rule.
But his son, Ahmad, and his nephews, Ammar and Yehia, who are Mr Saleh’s military commanders, are reported to still be in the country.
Ahmad commands the elite Republican Guard, and other relatives control security and intelligence units.
Ammar and Yehia have co-operated with the United States in fighting. Many in Yemen believe their presence in this transitional period is essential for the US and Allied forces so that the power should only be transferred to the people who work in their favour and don’t face any difficulty even in the post Saleh period as it has been ongoing in the Post Revolution periods in Tunisia and Egypt .
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama’s top aide for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan contacted the Yemeni vice-president on Saturday, following his Thursday meeting with Saudi and the UAE leaders.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment further on the contact between Brennan and the Yemeni government.
Explosions and gunfire have been heard in the city, with correspondents reporting renewed fighting between Yemeni military and fighters of President Saleh’s rival Ahmar tribe.
At least five people were killed in a grenade attack at a military compound north of Sanaa. A military source inside the army’s fist division, led by defected Gen Ali Mohsen, has told the BBC a bomb went off in the compound by mistake.
Four Yemeni soldiers were killed in an attack in the southern city, Taiz – another focus of anti-government protests. One of the attackers also died in the gunbattle
Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for near daily demonstrations in Yemen’s major cities since late January, calling for an end to corruption and unemployment and demanding the ouster of Saleh, who has been in office since 1978.
So it appears that President Saleh will be the third leader swept away in what has become known as the Arab spring, following President Ben Ali of Tunisia, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.