Trump's Top Middle East Adviser Removed From Position

Trump's Top Middle East Adviser Removed From Position

Retired Col. Derek Harvey, one of President Donald Trump's top advisers on the National Security Council, was removed from his post on Thursday, marking the latest staffing shake-up in an administration plagued by reports of internal conflict between competing ideological factions.

The White House would not say whether Harvey was sacked, but confirmed he will no longer serve as the top Middle East adviser.

A statement from the National Security Council didn't cite the reasoning for the firing but said the administration is looking to install Harvey into a new position.

NSC spokesman Michael Anton would not provide any more information on the record beyond the statement he issued earlier on Harvey's departure, but he did confirm that Harvey's deputies, Joel Rayburn and Michael Bell, still work for the NSC.

"Since January, I have had the special honor to serve as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Middle East Affairs in the National Security Council", the statement said. "In addition to the criticality of the mission, the people I have worked with in the NSC and the White House make this a tough decision", Harvey said.

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Two sources told the Standard that Harvey's departure was not a direct product of staff fighting, but that several top administration members saw Harvey as too close to White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Harvey also supported a more bellicose Iran strategy than either Tillerson or Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Harvey, a long-time intelligence professional with wide knowledge of the Middle East, played a critical role in the administration's Iran, Syria, and Iraq policies.

He is also known for recognizing the growing threat of the Iraqi insurgency following the US invasion in 2003, and as a key ally of retired Gen. David Petraeus in executing the surge in Iraq.

Harvey was said to be among the proponents for unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from the P%+1 nuclear deal, a position which ultimately lost out in recent weeks, as Secretary of State and Defense, Tillerson and Mattis, managed to convince Trump to take a more measured approach.

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