Monday, September 20, 2010

Basque separatist warns of IRA-type split within ETA

ETA hardliners could form a new more violent offshoot, similar to the Real IRA, a separatist leader warned Monday, as Madrid snubbed a call by the outlawed Basque group for international mediation. ETA, blamed for 829 deaths in a flagging campaign of bombings and shootings to secure an independent Basque homeland, on Sunday called on international mediators to help resolve the decades-old conflict. That followed a September 5 video declaration in which it said it had decided several months ago to halt armed offensive actions. But the ceasefire was rejected outright by Madrid for failing to promise a permanent end to the violence. The government also Monday dismissed the latest proposal, with Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega saying it contained "nothing new." "ETA knows that the only thing that has any value is the definitive and complete end to violence and arms," she said.

Patxi Zabaleta, the head of non-violent Basque separatist group Aralar, said ETA must agree to "unilaterally end (violence), verifiably and without any political benefits. "That is what we are hoping for. But there remains the risk of a split (within ETA), similar to the Real IRA," he told the newspaper El Pais. The Real IRA (Irish Republican Army) split from the Provisional IRA -- once the main Catholic militant organisation opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland -- in 1997 over the latter's support for a peace drive. Some ETA fighters who favour a continuation of the campaign of violence could form splinter group like "that of the Real IRA, marginalised and ineffective," Zabaleta said. ETA's political wing Batasuna, with which he had met three times recently, was determined to work for "the end of violence," as it has indicated since early this year, he added. Batasuna wanted to "move forward on this path," and if that was not possible "there would be a break-up" between Batasuna and ETA.



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I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

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