Monday, October 24, 2011

Lessons from Spain’s Battle with the ETA

The Spanish terrorist group ETA, who has been fighting for an independent Basque territory against Spain and France, announced an end to its’ violent terrorist activities that have killed at least 900 people over the last twenty five years. They further called for a political solution to address the legitimate grievances of the Basque people.

 Though some Spaniards are leery because members of  ETA have made similar promises before only to resume terrorist activities at a later point. Let’s assume for a moment that the ETA is genuine in this announcement, Spain has provided a useful blueprint for defeating terrorism.

Spain and France put a great deal of police pressure on elements of the ETA. Further, they’ve allowed pro-Basque independence parties contest seats in municipal elections, giving Basques an alternative to ETA’s terrorism. These parties have garnered greater support over the last few years, starving the ETA of their base of support.

 ETA’s undoing may have been its’ own failure to honor a similar promise to cease violent hostilities in 2006 as it was negotiating with the Spanish government. That overreach is important because it had a large part in discrediting the organization, among its' base population. If a terrorist organization loses its' legitimacy, it's relegated to the fringes of society, or eliminated altogether. 

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