As Saudi soldiers drive armored vehicles around Aden, the port in southern Yemen they helped recapture from rebels, young men clap and children flash the V-for-victory sign.

"The coalition came here to help us," said Omar Abdullah Saleh, a Yemeni militia fighter, as he patrolled among collapsed buildings and bullet-riddled walls. "We are happy with their presence."

There are reasons for the Saudis to wonder how long the warm welcome will last — especially if they recall that U.S. troops in Iraq were also greeted as liberators, at first. Local allies have their own agenda; public expectations of a swift return to normal life will be tough to meet; and in much of Yemen the rebels still hold sway and enjoy grassroots support.