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Gregory D. Johnsen

Dr. Gregory D. Johnsen is a former Non-Resident Fellow at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies where he focused on al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and armed groups in Yemen. Prior to joining the Sana’a Center, Dr. Johnsen served on the Panel of Experts for the UN Security Council on Yemen from 2016 to 2018. He is the author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia, which has been translated into multiple languages.

Dr. Johnsen holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and Master’s degrees from Princeton and the University of Arizona. His writing on Yemen – and the wider Gulf – has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and Foreign Policy, among other publications. His journalism has won multiple awards, including a Dirksen Award from the National Press Foundation and, in collaboration with Radiolab, a Peabody Award.

Gregory's latest contributions

The Best of Intentions: How the Biden Administration Tried and Failed to End the War in Yemen

March 27, 2022
The Biden administration took office on January 20, 2021, determined to end the war in Yemen. On the campaign trail, candidate Biden had promised not to “sell more weapons” to Saudi Arabia, … Read more

The Kingpin of Sana’a – A Profile of Ahmed Hamed

May 18, 2021
In early February, Mahdi Al-Mashat, the youthful 35-year-old Houthi president, called a private meeting of senior government officials in Sana’a. Al-Mashat, who became head of the Houthi-run Supreme … Read more

Foreign Actors in Yemen: The History, the Politics and the Future

January 31, 2021
Foreign actors have a long history in Yemen. From the first Zaidi imam who arrived in the country in the ninth century to the regional military intervention led by Saudi Arabia in 2015, outsiders … Read more

387 Days of Power: How Al-Qaeda Seized, Held and Ultimately Lost a Yemeni City 

January 5, 2021
On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm, which was intended to be a brief air campaign – the Saudis told the US it would take “about six weeks” – to expel the Houthis from … Read more

Biden Takes Over: Advice and Expectations for a New US Administration

December 10, 2020
Washington’s Yemen policy, long driven by counterterrorism and broader regional interests, has substantively remained unchanged through the past three US administrations. At times, drone strikes have … Read more