Yemen Inspired by Cairo But Fearful of Chaos

Yemenis fear country could collapse if it follows Cairo's example.

ByABC News
February 11, 2011, 12:51 PM

SANA'A, YEMEN <br/>Feb. 11, 2011 -- Hundreds of demonstrators erupted in joy in Yemen tonight at news that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ceded power in Egypt.

Car horns honked and flags flew as 300 demonstrators celebrated in front of Sana'a University.

But the demonstration didn't last long and Yemen returned to the quiet we've witnessed all week.

Like Cairo, Yemen's capital Sana'a has a Tahrir Square in the middle of the city. But it bore no resemblance to Liberation Square in Cairo last night.

There were only a few stray dogs and old men wandering around . The university was just as quiet. In fact we drove all over Sana'a last night and again today and the scene was the same. At a cafe that carried live pictures of the rally in Cairo, people glanced up once in awhile in between sips of tea. They said they were indeed inspired by what they were seeing, and wanted Mubarak to step down immediately, but they did not seem to want the same to happen here in Yemen.

Today, even the head of one of the opposition movements told us that he was satisfied with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's promise not to run for re-election and the concessions he has already offered.

Yes, Saleh learned a lot of lessons from watching the events in Tunisia and Egypt, and seems to have made a successful pre-emptive strike. It does not mean you won't see protests in other parts of the country --the south in particular where there is an ongoing secessionist movement -- but for now things are remarkably calm as far as the protests go.

One reason is that there seems to be a genuine fear that this country, the poorest in the Arab world, would collapse with the sudden departure of Saleh.