emeni protesters celebrated in the streets Sunday over the news that President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, after sustaining serious injuries in a Friday attack on his compound. Saleh has transferred power to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, at least temporarily. But given the Saudis' weeks-long efforts to get the embattled president to step down in exchange for amnesty, many observers "doubt Mr. Saleh will ever go back to Yemen," says Jon Leyne at BBC News. Is this good news for Yemen, or will the power vacuum create chaos?
Don't count Saleh out yet: Yemen's long-suffering protesters are celebrating like Saleh is the latest deposed despot in the Arab Spring, says Jeb Boone in TIME. "But should they be so happy?" Loyalist troops under the command of Saleh's nephew (and "known for their itchy trigger fingers") still patrol the streets, Saleh's heir apparent son is still in the country, and the government insists Saleh himself is coming back soon.
"The shadow of Saleh: Spoiling the party in Yemen"
There's new hope for Yemen: Let's be realistic, says Brian Whitaker in The Guardian. For "all intents and purposes, the Saleh era is finished." That's great news. Yemen was stuck in neutral, or even reverse, while Saleh clung to power. But "there is now a fair chance that the armed conflict will subside." And hopefully, after a short transition period, fair elections will "bring in some new blood that reflects the aspirations" of Yemen's brave protesters.
"Saleh is gone. What next for Yemen?"
Yemen's unrest might actually get worse now: Yemen's "new dawn might in other times have brought a sigh of relief," says Saudi Arabia's Arab News in an editorial. But not now. Yemen's protests started out in the Egyptian pro-freedom mold, but then devolved into "a free-for-all of competing militia tribes and powerful families." And ominously, "al Qaeda is making use of the unrest more than any other party." Yemen has been left "rudderless," and it's possible that the next captain could be even worse than Saleh.
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