Trevor is broadly interested in the political economy of conflict and development. At RAND, he primarily works on security sector assistance, partner nation interoperability, and conflict stabilization in the Middle East. While largely focused on the greater Middle East, Trevor has also worked on security and development issues in Africa and Russia. His latest report examines U.S. security sector assistance in Africa and the effect of such assistance on the incidence of civil wars and insurgencies in the countries in which it was delivered.
1. What specific areas have you focused on in your research?
I work on the political economy of conflict and development across the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arabian Gulf region. Recently, I have become especially interested in security cooperation and institution building.
2. Could you describe your work on Middle East-focused projects over the past year as well as what you will be working on as we move into the new fiscal year?
Over the past year, I have worked on several projects related to the conflict in Yemen, which have covered a wide array of topics, including local peacebuilding and resiliency, Iranian proxy development, and how combat experience informs military learning. This year, I will continue working on Yemen, focusing on the cholera epidemic and how governance failures have contributed to its spread.
3. Why is this work important?
Yemen represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges in the world today. Since 2015, the civil war has raged throughout the country, inflaming old grievances and creating new divisions in a country historically beset by sectarian, tribal, and regional cleavages. And yet perhaps no challenge is more frustrating than the ongoing cholera epidemic. Yemen’s outbreak has the dubious distinction of being the worst cholera epidemic in the world—and it was entirely preventable. The war may have started the epidemic, allowing cholera to initially spread, but state failure has made it a humanitarian crisis. Similar challenges can be found in other conflict zones, making it imperative that we better understand the intersection of conflict dynamics and disease.
4. What have the major takeaways been from your work so far?
The Yemen war has had varying effects across the country, with some municipalities and regions proving far more resilient than others. Absent a functioning state, municipalities and provinces vary widely in their distinct challenges and respective capacities. Some areas, for example, have been more effective in providing basic sanitation and clean water. How and why some local communities have been able to respond to this crisis can offer vital lessons for Yemeni policymakers, local NGOs, and international actors.
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