Thursday, February 10, 2005

SIMON JEFFERY, over at The Guardian's blog, writes about yesterday's car bomb by ETA:
The reasoning appears to be to remind the Spanish political classes it has not gone away. The territory occupied by its banned political wing, Batasuna, was squeezed by the mainstream Basque nationalist parties when Juan José Ibarrexte, the regional premier, took what amounted to a plan for independence to the Madrid parliament. It needs to get Batasuna unbanned before the Basque elections in April to regain a diminishing voice, and has asked Madrid to begin talks.

In such a political context the bombings are harder to understand, but Eta appears unable to renounce violence. Speculation that it would announce a ceasefire was dashed on January 18 when it detonated a bomb in Gexto, near Bilbao, and it has shown itself unwilling to comply with the Spanish government's demand that it lays down arms before talks begin. For all the bombs, the group itself is weak. Arrests have whittled down its active membership and most of the senior leaders are in jail. In October, they called for what remains of Eta to give up. The rump is looking for a way out, but through pure terrorism – the fear of what it could do – trying to get the best possible terms for its exit.

Jeffery thinks that the strategy won't work because Zapatero has stated clearly that there's no room for terrorists in Spanish society. I wouldn't be so sure; the rumors are growing -and he hasn't flatly denied them- that the government has been in secret talks with ETA for months, even after the previous car bomb in Getxo.