Jack Watling and Namir Shabibi

8 June 2018

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Between 2004-2015 Britain engaged in capacity building operations across Yemen’s police, military, and intelligence agencies. This briefing seeks to provide a critical review of these efforts, their successes, and the causes of their ultimate failure, in order to identify lessons for future training and assistance missions.

British successes in Yemen were the result of sustained engagement, a willingness to develop training objectives in collaboration with Yemeni colleagues, and the integration of efforts with several institutions. But British strategic objectives diverged from those of Yemen’s ruling elite, and poor coordination across Whitehall caused conflicting policies between military and humanitarian efforts.


Image credit: U.S. Navy, 2012/Wikimedia Commons.


About the Authors

Jack Watling is a journalist and historian. He has reported for Reuters, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Atlantic, the BBC, Haaretz, VICE News, Jane’s Intelligence Review and others, and is an associate analyst at IHS Markit. He has reported from Iraq, Mali, Rwanda, and further afield. Jack is currently completing his PhD, examining the evolution of British policy responses to civil conflict, and his broader research focuses on military assistance and the history of civil-military coordination in the context of counterinsurgency.

Namir Shabibi is an investigative journalist and documentary producer who has reported for the BBC, VICE News, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and Foreign Policy. He previously worked as an investigator for Reprieve, and was a delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Darfur and Guantanamo Bay. His research has focused on covert action, paramilitary forces and counterterrorism policy in East Africa and the Middle East, where he has conducted extensive field research. Namir holds a BA in Politics and an MA in Philosophy.