x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 December 2017

Retired colonel promoted to become Donald Trump's top Middle East adviser

Michael Bell has military experience in the region

Mike Bell was appointed by US President Donald Trump as top Middle East adviser on the National Security Council. Credit: National Defense University website
Mike Bell was appointed by US President Donald Trump as top Middle East adviser on the National Security Council. Credit: National Defense University website

A retired colonel who served in the first Iraq war has been appointed as Donald Trump’s top Middle East adviser following the dismissal of his predecessor Derek Harvey following disagreements about US tactics over Iran and Syria.

Colonel Michael Bell, who was last week the National Security Council’s director for Gulf affairs, is known as a team player and sees eye-to-eye with national security adviser HR McMaster, an Army general, who was himself appointed in February, according to a source familiar with the deliberations.

Mr Harvey was dismissed last Thursday after clashing with Mr McMaster, and the decision to appoint Mr Bell was taken the following day. He is expected to improve relations between President Trump’s main foreign policy advisory body and the Pentagon, and with lawmakers.

Before joining the NSC, Mr Bell was the Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs and was the lead writer for US’s global military strategy following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. He also wrote the national military strategy for the Kuwaiti armed forces.

He served in Kuwait during the first Iraqi war, and his views are seen as being more in sync with the current military leadership than his predecessor, according to the source.