Top Trump Middle East adviser ousted from National Security Council

Top Trump Middle East adviser ousted from National Security Council

The White House said Friday that Derek Harvey, a senior Middle East adviser to President Trump, is no longer with the National Security Council (NSC). 

An NSC spokesperson said the retired Army intelligence officer may take a new job elsewhere in the administration. 

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“[National security adviser] General [H.R.] McMaster greatly appreciates Derek Harvey’s service to his country as a career Army officer, where he served his country bravely in the field and played a crucial role in the successful surge in Iraq, and also for his service on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration,” spokesman Michael Anton said.

“The administration is working with Colonel Harvey to identify positions in which his background and expertise can be best utilized.” 

The Weekly Standard first reported Harvey’s departure, saying he was fired effective immediately. He served as senior director for Middle East policy on the NSC.  

The move comes amid fierce disagreements within the administration over its approach to Iran. 

Harvey was known as a hawk on the matter, among a contingent of Trump advisers who are pushing for a more aggressive tack toward Iran by urging Trump to scrap the nuclear deal struck by former President Obama. But others, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, want a more measured approach and reportedly convinced the president to stop short of doing so. 

Harvey was hired by McMaster’s predecessor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The Weekly Standard reported that Harvey’s dismissal was not a result of the tussling over Iran — but came because he was viewed as too close to senior Trump adviser Stephen Bannon. 

The retired Army colonel has vast experience in Middle East conflicts, helping lead counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as a key official at U.S. Central Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency. 

Gen. David Petraeus called Harvey his “favorite intelligence officer,” according to journalist Bob Woodward.