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Syria and the city of Deraa: How the CIA engineered the civil war in Syria

Vile revolutions, like that in Syria, are carefully planned and well funded. Here is how it all started.

Alex Christoforou

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As the US elections enter their final 3 month stretch, an unusually strong emphasis has been placed on foreign policy, with each candidate blaming the other for the creation of ISIS, the mess that is Libya, and the civil war in Syria.

Sometimes the candidates (HRC) even blame Russia for ISIS, even though last I checked Vladimir Putin was not running for the US President…America could only be so lucky.

What is often lost in the debate and rhetoric is how we went from secular and stable states in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and have now come to the present day situation.

Iraq was illegally invaded by George W. Bush in search of those mysterious WMDs.

Libya was torn apart by Hillary Clinton, Sarkozi and Cameron. Muammar Gaddafi suffered a horrible death as Hillary cackled in joy. Gaddafi’s crime…proposing to set up an African currency backed by gold and not the USD.

Syria, well that’s where things seem a bit blurry.

Before the civil war broke out, Syria was a safe, prosperous, and very secular Middle East nation. How Syria devolved into the tragic chaos that plagues it today, is muddled up in dozens of false claims of chemical attacks, moderate rebels, freedom fighters, and other scripted narratives, purposefully meant to blur the operation launched against Assad by the “exceptional” nation.

This is why the below post is essential reading.

Entitled, “The day before Deraa: How the war broke out in Syria” by Steven Sahiounie, this piece goes back in time and sets the record straight.

Things in Syria did not just happen by chance, nor was it some sort of “democratic” uprising.

Vile revolutions, like that in Syria, are carefully planned and well funded. Do not let history and fact be polluted by the corrupt media and Washington politicians, that look to wash away their sins, while rewriting the past to paint a fantasy picture.


The day before Deraa: How the war broke out in Syria

The day before September 11, 2001 was like any normal day in New York City.  September 10, 2001 was unaware of the earthshaking events which would happen the next day.

Similarly, one might think the day before the violence broke out in Deraa, Syria in March 2011 would have been an uneventful day, unaware of the uprising about to begin.

But, that was not the case.  Deraa was teaming with activity and foreign visitors to Syria well before the staged uprising began its opening act.

The Omari Mosque was the scene of backstage preparations, costume changes and rehearsals.  The Libyan terrorists, fresh from the battlefield of the US-NATO   regime change  attack on Libya, were in Deraa well ahead of the March 2011 uprising violence.  The cleric of the Omari Mosque was Sheikh Ahmad al Sayasneh . He was an older man with a severe eye problem, which caused him to wear special dark glasses, and severely hampered his vision.  He was not only visually impaired, but light sensitive as well, which caused him to be indoors as much as possible and often isolated.  He was accustomed to judging the people he talked with by their accent and voice. The Deraa accent is distinctive.  All of the men attending the Omari Mosque were local men, all with the common Deraa accent.  However, the visitors from Libya did not make themselves known to the cleric, as that would blow their cover.  Instead, they worked with local men; a few key players who they worked to make their partners and confidants. The participation of local Muslim Brotherhood followers, who would assist the foreign Libyan mercenaries/terrorists, was an essential part of the CIA plan, which was well scripted and directed from Jordan.

Enlisting the aid and cooperation of local followers of Salafism allowed the Libyans to move in Deraa without attracting any suspicion.   The local men were the ‘front’ for the operation.

The CIA agents running the Deraa operation from their office in Jordan had already provided the weapons and cash needed to fuel the flames of revolution in Syria.   With enough money and weapons, you can start a revolution anywhere in the world.

In reality, the uprising in Deraa in March 2011 was not fueled by graffiti written by teenagers, and there were no disgruntled parents demanding their children to be freed.    This was part of the Hollywood style script written by skilled CIA agents, who had been given a mission: to destroy Syria for the purpose of regime change.  Deraa was only Act 1: Scene 1.

The fact that those so-called teenaged graffiti artists and their parents have never been found, never named, and never pictured is the first clue that their identity is cloaked in darkness.

In any uprising there needs to be grassroots support. Usually, there is a situation which arises, and protesters take to the streets.  The security teams step in to keep the peace and clear the streets and if there is a ‘brutal crackdown’ the otherwise ‘peaceful protesters’ will react with indignation, and feeling oppressed and wronged, the numbers in the streets will swell.   This is the point where the street protests can take two directions: the protesters will back down and go home, or the protesters can react with violence, which then will be met with violence from the security teams, and this sets the stage for a full blown uprising.

The staged uprising in Deraa had some locals in the street who were unaware of their participation in a CIA-Hollywood production.  They were the unpaid extras in the scene about to be shot.  These unaware extras had grievances, perhaps  lasting a generation or more, and perhaps rooted in Wahhabism, which is a political ideology exported globally by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal family and their paid officials.

The Libyans stockpiled weapons at the Omari Mosque well before any rumor spread about teenagers arrested for graffiti.  The cleric, visually impaired and elderly, was unaware of the situation inside his Mosque, or of the foreign infiltrators in his midst.

The weapons came into Deraa from the CIA office in Jordan.  The US government has close ties to the King of Jordan.   Jordan is 98% Palestinian, and yet has a long lasting peace treaty with Israel, despite the fact that 5 million of the Jordanian citizen’s relatives next door in Occupied Palestine are denied any form of human rights.   The King of Jordan has to do a daily high-wire balancing act between his citizens, the peace and safety in his country and America’s interests and projects in the Middle East.   King Abdullah is not only a tight-rope walker, but a juggler at the same time, and all of this pressure on him must be enormous for him, and Queen Rania, who is herself Palestinian.  These facts must be viewed in the forefront of the background painted scenery of The Syrian Arab Republic, which has for the last 40 years had a cornerstone of domestic and foreign policy carved and set in the principle of Palestinian human rights and Palestinian freedom and justice.

The US policy to attack Syria for the purpose of regime change was not just about the gas lines, the oil wells, the strategic location and the gold: but it was about crushing that cornerstone of Palestinian rights into dust.  To get rid of President Bashar al Assad was to get rid of one of the few Arab leaders who are an unwavering voice of Palestinian rights.

Deraa’s location directly on the Jordanian border is the sole reason it was picked for the location-shoot of the opening act of the Syrian uprising.    If you were to ask most Syrians, if they had ever been to Derra, or ever plan to go, they will answer, “No.”  It is a small and insignificant agricultural town.  It is a very unlikely place to begin a nationwide revolution.  Deraa has a historical importance because of archeological ruins, but that is lost on anyone other than history professors or archeologists.    The access to the weapons from Jordan made Deraa the perfect place to stage the uprising which has turned into an international war.  Any person with common sense would assume an uprising or revolution in Syria would begin in Damascus or Aleppo, the two biggest cities. Even after 2 ½ years of violence around the country, Aleppo’s population never participated in the uprising, or call for regime change.   Aleppo: the large industrial powerhouse of Syria wanted nothing to do with the CIA mission, and felt that by staying clear of any participation they could be spared and eventually the violence would die out, a natural death due to lack of participation of the civilians.  However, this was not to play out for Aleppo.  Instead, the US supported Free Syrian Army, who were mainly from Idlib and the surrounding areas, invited in their foreign partners, and they came pouring into Aleppo from Turkey, where they had taken Turkish Airlines flights from Afghanistan, Europe, Australia and North Africa landing in Istanbul, and then transported by buses owned by the Turkish government to the Turkey-Aleppo border.  The airline tickets, buses, paychecks, supplies, food, and medical needs were all supplied in Turkey by an official from Saudi Arabia.  The weapons were all supplied by the United States of America, from their warehouse at the dock of Benghazi, Libya.  The US-NATO regime change mission had ended in success in Libya, with America having taken possession of all the weapons and stockpiles formerly the property of the Libyan government, including tons of gold bullion taken by the US government from the Central Bank of Libya.

Enter the Libyans stage right. Mehdi al Harati, the Libyan with an Irish passport, was put in charge of a Brigade of terrorists working under the pay and direction of the CIA in Libya.  Once his fighting subsided there, he was moved to Northern Syria, in the Idlib area, which was the base of operation for the American backed Free Syrian Army, who Republican Senator John McCain lobbied for in the US Congress, and personally visited, illegally entering Syria without any passport or border controls.  In Arizona, Sen. McCain is in favor of deporting any illegal alien entering USA, but he himself broke international law by entering Syria as an illegal and undocumented alien.  However, he was in the company of trusted friends and associates, the Free Syrian Army: the same men who beheaded Christians and Muslims, raped females and children of both sexes, sold girls as sex slaves in Turkey, and ate the raw liver of a man, which they  proudly videoed and uploaded.

Previously, Syria did not have any Al Qaeda terrorists, and had passed through the war in neighboring Iraq none the worse for wear, except having accepted 2 million Iraqis as refugee guests. Shortly before the Deraa staged uprising began, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in Damascus and being driven around by the President and First Lady. Pitt and Jolie had come to visit and support the Iraqi war refugees in Damascus.  Brad Pitt was amazed that the Syrian President would drive him around personally, and without any body guards or security detail.  Pitt and Jolie were used to their own heavy security team in USA.  Pres. Assad explained that he and his wife were comfortable in Damascus, knowing that it was a safe place.  Indeed, the association of French travel agents had deemed Syria as the safest tourist destination in the entire Mediterranean region, meaning even safer than France itself.

However, the US strategy was to create a “New Middle East”, which would do away with safety in Syria; through the ensuing tornado, aka ‘winds of change’.

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and then Syria were the stepping stones in the garden of the “Arab Spring”.  But, the scenario in the Syrian mission did not stay on script.   It went over deadline and over budget.  The final credits have yet to be rolled, and the curtain has yet to fall on the stage.

We can’t under estimate the role that mainstream media had to play in the destruction of Syria.  For example, Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin was in Deraa and personally interviewed the cleric Sayasneh at the Omari Mosque.   Al Jazeera is the state owned and operated media for the Prince of Qatar.  The Prince of Qatar was one of the key funders of the terrorists attacking Syria.  The USA was sending the weapons, supplies and providing military satellite imagery, however the cash to make payroll, to pay out bribes in Turkey, and all other expenses which needed cold cash in hand was being paid out by the Prince of Qatar and the King of Saudi Arabia, who were playing their roles as closest Middle East allies of the United States of America.  This was a production team between USA, EU, NATO, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar primarily.  The CIA has no problem with covert operations in foreign countries, and even full scale attacks, but the matter of funding needs to come from a foreign country, because the American voters don’t care about killing people in Syria, but they would never agree to pay for it.  As long as the Arabs were paying for the project, that was OK by Mr. John Q. Public, who probably was not able to find Syria on a map anyway.

Rula Amin and others of the Al Jazeera staff, and including the American CNN, the British BBC and the French France24 all began deliberate political propaganda campaign against the Syrian government and the Syrian people who were suffering from the death and destruction brought on by the terrorists who were pretending to be players in a local uprising.   Some days, the scripts were so similar that you would have guessed they were all written in the same hotel room in Beirut.  Onto the stage stepped the online media personalities of Robert Fisk, from his vantage point in Beirut and Joshua Landis from his perch in Oklahoma.  These 2 men, sitting so far removed from the actual events, pretended to know everything going on in Syria.  British and American readers were swayed by their deliberate one-sided explanations, while the actual Syrians living inside Syria, who read in English online, were baffled.  Syrians were wondering how Western writers could take the side of the terrorists who were foreigners, following Radical Islam and attacking any unarmed civilian who tried to defend their home and family. The media was portraying the terrorists as freedom fighters and heroes of democracy, while they were raping, looting, maiming, kidnapping for ransom and murdering unarmed civilians who had not read the script before the shooting began in Deraa.  There was one global movie trailer, and it was a low budget cell phone video which went viral around the world, and it sold the viewers on the idea of Syria being in the beginning of a dramatic fight for freedom, justice and the American way.   From the very beginning, Al Jazeera and all the rest of the media were paying $100.00 to any amateur video shot in Syria.  A whole new cottage industry sprang up in Syria, with directors and actors all hungry for the spotlight and fame.  Authenticity was not questioned; the media just wanted content which supported their propaganda campaign in Syria.

Deraa was the opening act of tragic epic which has yet to conclude.  The cleric who was a key character in the beginning scenes, Sheikh Sayasneh, was first put under house arrest, and then he was smuggled out to Amman, Jordan in January 2012.  He now gives lectures in America near Washington, DC. Just like aspiring actors usually find their way to Hollywood, which is the Mecca of the film industry, Sheikh Sayasneh found his way to the Mecca of all regime change projects.

Via: http://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/1135-day-before-deraa.html

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Pat Mc Ginley
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Pat Mc Ginley

Except, it was invasion by foreign devious agendas, fraudulently disguised as civil war to gain public support abroad. There’s a major difference. Thankfully, the vast majority of Syrians always knew and pointed it out at every opportunity, which was seldom because the BBC, etc., didn’t want us to know the truth.

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part II – news fatigue across America

The daily barrage of Russiagate news may have been a tool to wear down the American public as the Deep State plays the long game for control.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Presently there is a media blitz on across the American news media networks. As was the case with the Russiagate investigation while it was ongoing, the conclusions have merely given rise to a rather unpleasant afterbirth in some ways as all the parties involve pivot their narratives. The conclusion of Russiagate appears to be heavily covered, yet if statistics here at The Duran are any indication, there is a good possibility that the public is absolutely fatigued over this situation.

And, perhaps, folks, that is by design.

Joseph Goebbels had many insights about the use of the media to deliver and enforce propaganda. One of his quotes runs thus:

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

and another:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If there has ever been a narrative that employed these two principles, it is Russiagate.

A staggering amount of attention has been lavished on this nothing-burger issue. Axios reports that an analytics company named Newswhip tallied an astounding 533,074 web articles published about Russia and President Trump and the Mueller investigation (a number which is being driven higher even now, moment by moment, ad nauseam). Newsbusters presently reports that the networks gave 2,284 minutes to the coverage of this issue, a number which seems completely inaccurate because it is much too low (38 hours at present), and we are waiting for a correction on this estimate.

Put it another way: Are you sick of Russiagate? That is because it has dominated the news for over 675 days of nearly wall-to-wall news cycles. The political junkies on both sides are still pretty jazzed up about this story – the Pro-Trump folks rejoicing over the presently ‘cleared’ status, while of course preparing for the upcoming Democrat / Deep State pivot, and the Dems in various levels of stress as they try to figure out exactly how to pivot in such a manner that they do not lose face – or pace – in continuing their efforts to rid their lives of the “Irritant-in-Chief” who now looks like he is in the best position of his entire presidency.

But a lot of people do not care. They are tired.

I hate to say it (and yes, I am speaking personally and directly), but this may be a dangerous fatigue. Here is why:

The barrage of propaganda on this issue was never predicated on any facts. It still isn’t. However, as we noted a few days ago, courtesy of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, at present, 53% of US registered voters believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

That means 53% of the voting public now believes something that is totally false.

Many of these people are probably simply exhausted from the constant coverage of this allegation as well. So when the news came out Sunday night that there was no evidence of collusion and no conclusive evidence, hence, of obstruction of justice by the Trump Administration – in other words, this whole thing was a nothing burger – will this snap those 53% back into reality?

Probably not. Many of them may well be so worn down that they no longer care. Or worse, they are so worn out that they will continue to believe the things they are told that sustain the lie, despite its being called out as such.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this peculiarity of human nature, in particular in the seventh book of his Chronicles of Narnia. After a prolonged and fierce assault on the sensibilities of the Narnians with the story that Aslan, the Christ figure of this world, was in fact an angry overlord, selling the Narnians themselves into slavery, and selling the whole country out to its enemy, with the final touch being that Aslan and the devilish deity of the enemy nation were in fact one and the same, the Narnians were unable to snap back to reality when it was shown conclusively and clearly that this was in fact not the case.

The fear that was instilled from the use of false narratives persisted and blocked the animals from reality.

Lewis summarized it this way through the thoughts of Tirian, the lead character in this tale:

Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

This is part of the toll this very long propaganda campaign is very likely to take on many Americans. It takes being strongly informed and educated on facts to withstand the withering force of a narrative that never goes away. Indeed, if anything, it takes even more effort now, because the temptation of the pro-Trump side will be to retreat to a set of political talking points that, interestingly enough, validate Robert Mueller’s “integrity” when only a week ago they were attacking this as a false notion.

This is very dangerous, and even though Mr. Trump and his supporters won this battle, if they do not come at this matter in a way that shows education, and not merely the restating of platitudes and talking points that “should be more comfortable, now that we’ve won!”

The cost of Russiagate may be far higher than anyone wants it to be. And yes, speaking personally, I understand the fatigue. I am tired of this issue too. But the temptation to go silent may have already taken a lot of people so far that they will not accept the reality that has just been revealed.

Politics is a very fickle subject. Truth is extremely malleable for many politicians, and that is saying it very nicely. But this issue was not just politics. It was slander with a purpose, and that purpose is unchanged now. In fact things may even be more dangerous for the President – even risking his very life – because if the powers that are working behind the people trying to get rid of President Trump come to realize that they have no political support, they will move to more extreme measures. In fact this may have already been attempted.

We at The Duran reported a few months ago on a very strange but very compelling story that suggested that there was an attempted assassination and coup that was supposed to have taken place on January 17th of this year. It did not happen, but there was a parallel story that noted that the President may have been targeted for assassination already no fewer than twelve times.  Hopefully this is just tinfoil-hat stuff. But we have seen that this effort to be rid of President Trump is fierce and it is extremely well-supported within its group. There is no reason to think that the pressure will lighten now that this battle has been lost.

The stakes are much too high, and even this long investigation may well have been part of the weaponry of the group we sometimes refer to as the “Deep State” in their effort to reacquire power, and in their effort to continue to pursue both a domestic and geopolitical agenda that has so far shown itself to be destructive to both individuals and nations all over the world.

Speculation? Yes. Needless? We hope so. This is a terrible possibility that hopefully no reasonable person wants to consider.

Honestly, folks, we do not know. But we had to put this out there for your consideration.

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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