Crowds Rejoice as Yemen’s Saleh Leaves for Saudi

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left for Saudi Arabia to undergo treatment for wounds he suffered when the presidential compound was attacked by opposition tribesmen earlier this week.

News of Saleh’s departure triggered mass jubilation in the capital Sanaa, with tens of thousands packing the city’s main square to celebrate. Despite the celebrations in Sanaa, violent confrontations between the opposition and government troops continued throughout the country, including in the city of Taiz, where at least two people were killed Sunday, according to witnesses.

Saleh left for the neighboring kingdom late Saturday, a day after suffering head and chest wounds in rocket attacks carried out by tribesmen seeking an end to the president’s 33-year rule, the ruling General People’s Congress party said. Citing a medical source, Reuters said Saleh was in good condition after undergoing surgery Sunday to remove shrapnel from his chest.

Some analysts see Saleh’s departure as an opportunity for Saudi, the West, and other Gulf states to end the crisis and prevent violence from escalating. “There is a short window of opportunity for Saudi, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the West to salvage whatever they can in Yemen, and they need to act fast,” Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global Associates and senior analyst at Political Capital, said.