Trump National Security Council Drops Senior Middle East Adviser

Reports credit dismissal of Middle East policy adviser and retired army colonel Derek Harvey to relationship issues with key figures in the administration

President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, speaks while having lunch with services members in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, July 18th 2017.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

WASHINGTON - A senior White House adviser on the Middle East was removed from the National Security Council on Thursday after only six months in office. Derek Harvey, a retired army colonel who was brought to the NSC by President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dismissed by the latter's successor, General H.R. McMaster.

A statement by the NSC said the administration was discussing other possible positions for Harvey within the U.S. government. 

Harvey's dismissal was first reported by the conservative magazine Weekly Standard, which credited the adviser's discharge to relationship problems with key security figures in the administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis. Other reports focused on tensions between Harvey, who is considered a hawk on Iran, and McMaster, who led the push within the administration earlier this month to recertify Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. 

Both Harvey and McMaster have a strong personal relationship with former CIA director and retired general, David Petraeus. Harvey was described in the past as "Petraeus' favorite intelligence officer." Yet within the Trump administration, Harvey was affiliated with Flynn, who resigned from his position as National Security Adviser after less than a month in office for his role in the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. McMaster is considered more moderate than Flynn on a number of key issues in the Middle East, including Iran policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.