Many ordinary Arabs claimed another scalp on Sunday in their quest to oust the region’s autocrats and dismissed the idea that Yemen’s president would ever return to power after treatment in Saudi Arabia.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, wounded in an attack on his palace in the Yemeni capital last week, underwent surgery to remove shrapnel on Sunday. A party official said he would return to Sanaa to resume his duties. Few believe he will.
“This signifies the fall of the third Arab authoritarian regime and will give a massive boost to those fighting in Syria and Libya,” said 27-year-old Egyptian banker, Hussein Khalil, one of the protesters.
In January, Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after stepping down. About a month later, on February 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak quit amid protests. He vowed not to leave Egypt and now faces graft and murder charges. Protests have spread, notably to Yemen, Syria, Libya and Bahrain, where other Arab rulers have been in power for decades. “The departure of Saleh is a turning point not just for the Yemeni revolution but also is a huge push for the current changes in the Arab region and is the start of the real victory,” said Zaki Bani Rusheid, a leading figure in Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.