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CIA Director Pompeo’s latest conspiracy theory: Venezuela crisis because of RUSSIA!

He also falsely accused Iran, Cuba and the Lebanese party Hezbollah of operating in Venezuela.

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For most people, the Venezuela crisis is about the political tensions between the popularly elected socialist President Nicolas Maduro and the legislature which backs him, the Constituent Assembly. The executive and Constituent Assembly are in conflict with the pro-US National Assembly whose powers have been reduced after Venezuela’s Supreme Court discovered voting irregularities in the 2015 election. Because of this protesters who are strongly backed and funded by the United States and US based NGOs have been engaged in violent protests and even a small terrorist operation against the government.

But CIA Director Mike Pompeo feels otherwise. For him it is because of RUSSIA,  CUBA, IRAN and HEZBOLLAH!

In a recent interview, Pompeo stated,

“Venezuela could very much become a risk for the United States of America. The Cubans are there; the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah are there. This is something that has a risk of getting to a very very bad place, so America needs to take this very seriously”.

Let’s break down this patent absurdity point by point.

1. Russia 

Russia has healthy, normal relations with Venezuela. In October of 2016, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro awarded President Putin the first ever Hugo Chavez Peace Prize.

Russia and Venezuela are both energy producers, but unlike Venezuela, Russia is not in OPEC. Apart from that, Russia maintains an embassy in Caracas and normal bilateral relations.

2. Cuba 

Although the Marxist-Leninism of the Castros is not identical to the Bolivarian Socialism of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, Cuba has tended to give strong political backing to a fellow left-wing country. Cuba no longer has a Russian military base on its soil but it does still have a very controversial US base at Guantanamo Bay.

Cuba maintains good fraternal relations with Venezuela, but Cuba is in no position to assist Venezuela even if it wanted to. Venezuela due to its oil is a far richer country than the small island of Cuba.

3. Iran 

Iran and Venezuela maintain healthy bilateral relations. Both states are members of OPEC and both states have frequently been the target of US military threats.

Iran’s military however limits itself to the Middle East where it is fighting terrorism in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government.

There is no contingent of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Caracas and there probably never will be. The only Iranians in Venezuela are those in the embassy as well as the occasional international businessman.

4. Hezbollah 

The Lebanese political party Hezbollah has literally nothing to do with Venezuela. Hezbollah is not an international organisation but a Lebanese one whose armed resistance wing primarily acts to secure southern Lebanon and has more recently helped Syria in its fight against groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

The only remote connection between Venezuela and Lebanon is the fact that Tareck El Aissami, the current Vice President of Venezuela has a Lebanese mother and a Syrian father.

His Druze father was involved in the secular socialist Ba’ath party in the Middle East but not with the primarily Shi’a group Hezbollah.

Apart from this, Venezuela’s connection to the Middle East is limited to the fact that the Venezuelan left strongly supporters Palestine.

Mike Pompeo has yet again shown his penchant for wild conspiracies.

His previous conspiracy theories include stating that Russia rigged the elections in the US where Barack Obama won, that Julian Assange would have been a Nazi in a past life, RT and Sputnik prevent Russia from going to war and this is bad, RT runs Wikileaks.

READ MORE: 5 weird conspiracy theories from CIA Director Mike Pompeo

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VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

“He also falsely accused Iran, Cuba and the Lebanese party Hezbollah of operating in Venezuela.” Wott!!! Surely, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah should not disappoint the Pompous CIA a….. hole? As a sovereign country, Venezuela has the right to call for support from any allies, especially after Trump threatened them with military intervention. It will be then up to those allies to see if they can come to its aid. How else will the rampant US military threat be countered? Or does Maduro want to share the fate of Saddam, Gaddafi and what they had planned for Assad? What the Pompous… Read more »

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

Ah, but we know the “story” behind this moron’s back, don’t we.
What this troublemaker actually means is that it is Venezuela own fault that is in trouble with US because she is not handing over its resources and sovereignty to the private company US Inc.
That is all.

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Precisely! It is the God-given right of the US to exploit and have access to all resources in their God’s Earth. Why don’t the rest of the world get that message?
Racism, exceptionalism and imperialism. I hope Venezuela calls on allies before they become another Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq etc…

tom
Guest
tom

Yes, all the people who refuse to do exactly what they are told by Washington, immediately, must hate America. And they are all in league together because they HATE OUR FREEDOMS.

Psychological projection is being superscaled here.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

And yet, it was Trump himself who handpicked this moron. The current POTUS should realize that if he wants to show strength then he must go after the powerful vested interests in Washington and within the US in general and not after other countries that have not threatened his. This childish display of international machoism is a failed policy and one that damages his presidency as well.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Trump was ordered to pick Pompeo, because this moron was too stupid to get in the way.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Remember what happened to Kennedy when he wanted to rain in the CIA?

Suzanne Giraud
Guest
Suzanne Giraud

to rein in

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Thanks for the edit :-))

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

I assume you refer to Kennedy’s attempt to ‘rein’ in the CIA. Well, he tried to work on that and other endeavours which would divert the US from its imperialist course and he paid the price. But what is your point? That Trump should simply betray his promises and opt for supposedly easy solutions? He’s already down this road and his opponents still want him out. Meanwhile, his policies are a compete mesh.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Thanks for the edit :-))
My point is that he is not in charge…Pretending that he is will result in him being stopped one way or the other. This seems to have been pointed out to him already. Trump is entirely unfamiliar with politics and lacks the curiosity to learn. He behaves like a 9-year old tweeting the greatest nonsense that keeps the whole world entertained, but he does NOTHING for this country. Schultz (Germany) considers Trump a danger to this country and a threat to world peace.He is an embarrassment to the office of President….

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

Well, I’m not going to defend Trumps’ current policies or behaviour. My point is that he should have done his best to fight the good fight and he didn’t. In the case of Pompeo, he picked an idiotic ignoramus. In any case, I agree with much of what you said.

An interesting note: plenty of Trump supporters in Breitbart take Pompeo’s statement as some sort of revelation that validates Trump’s threat to use military options against Venezuela. So much about the clearheaded attitude of American ”conservatives” vs the ”liberals”…

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

Is there something about the Americancas where there is a idiocy quotient? The more important you are the more stupid things you say and the more you think other people are stupid like you?

cap960
Guest
cap960

But of course… it’s Russia’s fault. American sanctions of Venezuela are just there to help the people.

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

If the Russians hadn’t polluted the precious bodily fluids of American politicians they wouldn’t have placed sanctions on Venezuela.

cap960
Guest
cap960

What you are saying Americans are “pussies” need to go after weaker countries. It’s always about Russia with Americans.

GeorgeG
Guest
GeorgeG

Have to hurry, sorry. — Just googled “Pompeo Venezuela.” One hit http://www.breitbart.com/video/2017/08/13/cia-director-mike-pompeo-iran-hezbollah-venezuela/ containing the full interview with Fox. The Company — a.k.a. “the world’s premier intelligence agency” and a.k.a. with the most “exquisite” intelligence and analysts — is cooking up a case for both humanitarian intervention and self-defense. Review the comments: Mike’s Iran- Hezbollah, Russia BS is serious, i.e., he is serious about spicing his dish with this flimsy connecto stuff. And the arms cashes falling into the “wrong hands”, e.g. FARC and the Venezuelan VP a drug dealer….

dave3200
Guest
dave3200

As a member of the deep state and proponent of the military-industrial complex, Pompeo is anxious to promote conflict anywhere he can find it. He’s a liar, just like most of his associates in the U.S. “intelligence” community. As is the case with Nikki Haley, it is hard to imagine Trump selecting Pompeo without undue influence from somewhere. He’s certainly not someone who would support Trump’s stated mission.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

What is “Trump’s mission”? He failed to keep his word made to his followers “I’ll never betray you”. He promised to be only the president of the USA, not to pretend to be president of the world. He promised to stop “all the stupid wars”, and in one week he threatened three more countries with military interventions, while far from stopping the stupid war in Afghanistan, he’s sending more thousands troops there. Check out his promises and see how many he renounced, and how many he reversed. About NATO, during the campaign “I said it was obsolete” Trump said. After… Read more »

dave3200
Guest
dave3200

Daisy, Trump has not committed to sending more troops to Afghanistan. You might want to read this: https://morningconsult.com/2017/08/14/voters-pessimistic-afghanistan-trump-weighs-boosting-troops/

Regarding NATO and his threats of military action, I’m in full agreement with you.

As for his accomplishment of campaign promises, this article outlines many of them:
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/07/president-trumps-first-six-months-are-historical-with-stock-market-on-fire-and-americans-hopeful-that-america-will-be-great-again/

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

A policy of loosing the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea. The US needs to convince the Taliban that they will get bombed until they agree not support terrorists. That deal could have been done in the first month of the war. They don’t enjoy getting bombed and were not interested in attacking us before we attacked them. It might be possible now because the Taliban is fighting ISIS.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Vladimir Putin was right concerning America, when he said presidents and governments change, but US politics remains the same. Bad administration yesterday=Bad administration today.
Republican presidents continued democrat presidents’ wars and vice-versa. The propaganda transmitted from one to another – intact. I guess it’s genetic by now (or contagious?).

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

Daisy, IMO it is correct and it is the ‘Deep State running the US Inc.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

‘Democratic election” is the biggest scam of the establishment to enslave the people, by making them believe they have a choice.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

Do they have any people with power in the US that aren’t totally NUTS, this idiot tops the whole Washington litter, moron!!!!

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Some other idiots preceded him , the Bushes, Clintons and Obama.
As Oscar Wilde said “America is the only country who jumped from barbarism to decadence, without civilization in between”.

Herbert Dorsey
Guest
Herbert Dorsey

And this is what passes for intelligence! I say fire them all!

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

If you like to do this on that bases then the whole lot will be gone.😀

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Pompeo went on to say Big Foot stole his favorite socks, because of Russia.

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

These people are so full of it…I feel like puking every time.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Mike Pompino – Scaramouche’s older and not much wiser Mafia bruddah.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

Just another totally out to lunch “nut-bar”, where do they find these idiots???

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

“He has just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wants to eat, but certainly no more.”
― P.G. Wodehouse

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

“Venezuela could very much become a risk for the United States of America”

I think that the biggest risk for USA come from … Virgin Islands and Micronesia
“Two things are infinite: the Universe and the human stupidity; and I’m not so sure about the Universe.”― Albert Einstein

DarkEyes
Guest
DarkEyes

Re. Albert E.
IMO it actually was Mrs. Einstein. She was the Brains behind him.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Common. Einstein had an IQ of 160.

opereta
Guest
opereta

Pompeo is just a straw man. Now a days, even the position of CIA Director has to be covered by a false entity, nobody in good mental health would accept the risk of being a fall man. Kim Jong-un has more legitimacy than this specimen

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Pompeo, another schizophrenic…
All he has to do is stop funding the opposition in Venezuela which the CIA has done for the past 19 years. It’s not working.

Boris Kazlov
Guest
Boris Kazlov

CIA = Complete Idiocy Agency

Suzanne Giraud
Guest
Suzanne Giraud

hmmm… Is there a Mount Vesuvius in D.C.?

Shahna
Guest

Well, it is – from his pov.
US is trying so hard, so really really HARD, to make another war and it’s failing EVERYWHERE!
But hey – they still had lil Venezuela – “We can go war VENEZUELA!”

Then that spoilsport Sergey (my favourite teddy bear) said ………… NO.
So … no war … not even in Venny!

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

It’s Russia’s fault that Mike Pompeo has piles.

Latest

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

Zerohedge

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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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