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Yemen will be the big test for democracy vs. Al Qaeda

The Yemen protests are working. Ali Abdullah Saleh is likely on the way out. But a democracy in Yemen will be up against the terrorist group's vision of violence.

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Is democracy the best repellent against Al Qaeda in Muslim countries?

That question, which Americans have debated since the invasion of Iraq, may finally get its ultimate test in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.

Yemen’s longtime ruler, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, is losing power quickly. Thousands of young people have kept peaceful street vigils for democracy since Feb. 21, inspired by Egypt’s ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Last Friday, Mr. Saleh’s legitimacy fell dramatically after security forces killed nearly 50 protesters near Sanaa University and Taghyir (Change) Square.

That slaughter of civilians has now triggered high-level defections of top generals and tribal leaders, who finally recognize the ideals of the disaffected youth and the hollow promises of reform by Saleh.

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