Yemen protests turned to celebrations on Sunday in Sanaa as reports surfaced that long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh was taken to a Saudi Arabian hospital for treatment of injuries he suffered during a rocket attack.
Many of those who have been involved with the Yemen protests see the departure as the victorious culmination of a three-month, often violent effort to push the strongman out of office.
But some are wary that Saleh, who has clung to power in this Arab nation for 33 years, will eventually return. The regime has said so although observers doubt if Saleh can indeed come back to Yemen amid the turmoil.
Yemen protests have been bloody, but none have inflicted more damage than the rocket attack that hit a mosque in the presidential compound. The strike killed 11 of Saleh’s men and injuring five senior government officials along with Saleh who suffered burns and cuts.
“Saleh will come back. Saleh is in good health, and he may give up the authority one day but it has to be in a constitutional way,” deputy information minister Abdu al-Janadi said. “Calm has returned. Coups have failed…We are not in Libya, and Saleh is not calling for civil war.”
But even as the government tries to project that it is still in control, the Yemen protests for the last few months show otherwise. Crowds sang and danced in wild street celebrations in the capital on Sunday in scenes previously witnessed in other countries in the Middle East as dictators were deposed.
Yemen protests may have toppled Saleh, but extremists may continue to make the situation more volatile in the coming days.