Foreign Policy Research Institute

“A nation must think before it acts.” —Robert Strausz-Hupé
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Spain's ETA Terrorist Group is Dying

Christopher C. Harmon

Abstract

The armed organization “Basque Fatherland & Liberty” undertook a struggle for an independent homeland vis-à-vis Spanish central government over half a century ago. But today, the author argues, the ETA appears doomed for three reasons. First, Spanish statesmen of the late 1970s agreed to limited autonomy for Basque-dominated provinces, and over time this undermined militancy. Second, Paris has become a strong partner to Madrid in pursuing ETA members—who once could hide readily amidst French Basques. And finally, Spanish policing is now excellent. With good intelligence and professionalism, varied internal security forces have been confronting ETA gunmen and tracking down the personnel of proscribed support groups. Thus, a resilient Spanish democracy offers a case study in how terrorist groups may end.