Trevor Johnston

Photo of Trevor Johnston
Associate Political Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in political science, University of Michigan; B.A. in political science, UCLA


Trevor Johnston is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and is broadly interested in the political economy of conflict and development. His work focuses on security assistance and conflict stabilization in the Middle East. His recent projects include studies on peacebuilding and stabilization in Yemen, defense institutional reform in the Arabian Gulf, and a series of evaluations on U.S. security cooperation in Africa, Eurasia, and the Middle East. 

Before coming to RAND, Johnston studied labor and welfare policies in the Arabian Gulf and worked on structural reform in North Africa. From 2015 to 2017, Johnston was a Middle East Initiative Fellow in the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Recent Projects

  • State Failure and Local Governance in Yemen
  • Strategic Evaluation of Security Cooperation
  • Military Modernization in the Arabian Gulf
  • Grievances and Resiliency in Yemen

Selected Publications

Watts, Stephen, Johnston, Trevor, Lane, Matthew, Mann, Sean, McNerney, Michael J. and Brooks, Andrew, Building security in Africa: an evaluation of U.S. security sector assistance in Africa from the Cold War to the present, (RR-2447), 2018

O'Mahony, Angela, Miranda Priebe, Bryan Frederick, Jennifer Kavanagh, Matthew Lane, Trevor Johnston, Trevor, Thomas S. Szayna, Jakub Hlavka, Stephen Watts, and Matthew Povlock, U.S. presence and the incidence of conflict, (RR-1906), 2018

Johnston, Trevor, "Authoritarian Abdication: Bargaining Power and the Role of Firms in Migrant Welfare," Studies in Comparative International Development, 2017

Diop, Abdoulaye, Trevor Johnston, Kien Trung Le, Yaojun Li, "Donating Time or Money? The Effects of Religiosity and Social Capital on Civic Engagement in Qatar," Social Indicators Research, 2017

Diop, Abdoulaye, Trevor Johnston, and Kien Le Trung, "Economic Interest and the Support for Immigration Reform: A Survey Experiment from Qatar," Journal of Arabian Studies




  • People walk at a street market in Sanaa, Yemen, February 5, 2021, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Congressional Options to Advance Peace in Yemen

    An enduring peace in Yemen will require addressing Yemen's most immediate needs while working to develop its economic, political, and security institutions. U.S. lawmakers have the tools to help shape this effort and could help end the conflict and bring stability to Yemen.

    Mar 29, 2021 The Hill

  • A pro-government tribal fighter stands at his position in Marib, Yemen, October 2, 2020, photo by Ali Owidha/Reuters

    Pathways Toward Peace in Yemen: National Reconciliation or a 'Phased' Approach?

    Any pathway to an enduring peace in Yemen could take decades to recover from the economic, political, and social costs of this civil war. A phased approach could require patience from the Yemeni people and a robust and enduring commitment from the international community. But war has brought Yemen to this point, and there are few remaining options.

    Mar 5, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • A boy with followers of the Houthi movement carries a rifle during a rally to commemorate the Ashura, the holiest day for Shi'ite Muslims, in Sanaa, Yemen, August 30, 2020, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Yemen's Chaos Creates a New Opportunity for the Biden-Harris Team

    More than one-quarter million Yemenis have been killed in the nation's civil war. And 150,000 children have died from starvation and left Yemen on the brink of collapse. The foundations of peace must be Yemeni-led, but there is much that the new U.S. administration could do to support the process.

    Nov 24, 2020 The National Interest

  • A desk with 3D printing technology on top

    Downloadable Guns and Other 3-D Printing Security Threats

    Americans may soon be able to legally access blueprints for 3D-printed guns. The growing opposition to these weapons shows that potential security threats do not have to be inevitable. The security challenges inherent in 3D printing could be addressed, while the development of industry norms can still be shaped.

    Jul 31, 2018 Fox News Channel