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Alongside the bigger question of what imprint the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis in Yemen will leave on the region is another fascinating question for those with a taste for the intrigues of Saudi royal politics: from where, and whom, did Saudi Arabia’s new assertive position come? Attempts to reply to a large extent fall into the realm of palace speculation, but there are several things worth noting. Saudi Arabia’s willingness and ability to organise and lead such a high-profile campaign is a sign both that the new ruler is happy to assert his regional leadership, and that the broader leadership is less afflicted by the sense of drift which pervaded the last of King Abdullah’s years.