For years, Yemen's president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, served as a deputy to his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr Hadi's expressionless appearance beside the then-president earned him the disparaging nickname, the Statue. In office today, Mr Hadi has been no more expressive, but he has been strategic. Indeed, his quiet, unassuming demeanour has masked some strategically significant moves.
Last week's reshuffling of the military has been his boldest move so far. By announcing that three of Mr Saleh's most powerful relatives would leave their military positions to be ambassadors, he pulled off a striking coup. In effect, Mr Hadi took those political actors most likely to challenge his power and first exiled them from the military and then exiled them from the country.
Could the man who seemed more comfortable in the shadows be coming into his own? Could the Statue have a grand plan?
The reshuffling of the military means that all the major divisions are now under the command of the president's office, an enormously significant move. Centralising the military is the first step towards creating something that Yemen has not had for many years: a centralised state.
Be under no illusions - that is a long way off. But without a centralised military, a centralised state would be impossible.
It is precisely this lack of a centralised state that Mr Saleh both perpetuated and accentuated during his years in power, making sure that there was always a balance of power among factions, never allowing any one to gain enough power to challenge his rule. Mr Saleh once memorably described this set-up as "dancing on the heads of snakes".
Mr Hadi's reshuffle changes that. It makes possible the idea of a Yemeni state.
The reach of the government in Sanaa to all the cities of Yemen has always been limited; Mr Saleh has had to rely on proxy powers to enforce his will. But as the political analyst Abdullah Hamidaddin has argued, Yemen since at least the 1960s has never been a state in the way the term is often understood. There has been no monopoly on power by the central government.
That is why Mr Hadi's moves towards centralising the military could have such far-reaching consequences. They make it possible - if not yet probable - that the central government could have something like a monopoly of power, allowing political structures to emerge that carry real political legitimacy.
Were that to happen, it would have an impact on the other essential political question of modern Yemen, what happens in the south. The unhappy union of north and south Yemen in the 1990s still festers and the south has repeatedly pushed for more autonomy or indeed outright secession. Since the fall of Mr Saleh, those voices have increased and indeed some elements of Hirak, the southern secessionist movement, have refused to participate in the National Dialogue unless meaningful negotiations on separation are on the table.
The southern question is enormously important for the country's future and for avoiding the civil war that some fear could follow a collapse in the National Dialogue. Southerners have chafed at control by northerners since unification, and at the expropriation of some of the most fertile and valuable land through murky means. The south, or large parts of it at least, has come to see the government in Sanaa as governing for its own ends, protected by its own military.
In power, Mr Hadi has shown some willingness to recognise the concerns of the south, removing the (northerner) governor of Taiz, the second-largest city in the south, and setting up commissions to look into the expropriation of land. What Mr Hadi has not done, however, is accept the idea that the south could separate from the north; in his mind, the union must be maintained.
Yet his moves in the military mean that, some time down the road, he may be in a position to offer southern leaders a tempting deal: a genuine stake in a united country with a functioning central state under the command of a unified military. Faced with the current situation of domination by the north or an uncertain future of secession, the south might just take that bargain.
Such a scenario may sound unlikely. It is certainly unlikely to happen any time soon. The repercussions of the military reshuffle may yet flare up in unexpected ways: as the analyst Sama'a Al Hamdani wrote in these pages yesterday, assassinations could yet destabilise the new order of Mr Hadi. There are few guarantees in a country as complex as Yemen.
And yet such a slow, deliberate policy aligns well with Mr Hadi's political instincts. He has moved cautiously since taking over as president, striking when he sees an opportunity. Mr Hadi is well-placed to fulfil such a grand plan to unify Yemen. That's the artfulness of looking like a statue: you move so slowly that no one sees you coming.
On Twitter: @FaisalAlYafai