Spain: Divided We Fall
And, to complete the picture of a state divided, wounds from Spain's awful 1936-39 civil war and the subsequent four decades of General Franco's dictatorship that most people assumed were long healed were ripped open by Mr. Zapatero. In a break with previous Socialist rulers, he openly plays politics with history. Rusting Franco-era statues are ceremoniously torn down. The church and the so-called bourgeoisie--the enemies for the divisive Second Republic of 1931-36--have come under attack. Anyone on the right is, often by implication, a fascist.There continue to be still more arrests in Morocco related to the deadly 2004 bombing. The attacks sparked the election of a Socialist prime minister and the subsequent withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq as Zapatero sought to minimize Spain’s exposure to terrorism and thus bowed to al-Qaeda's warning. But his appeasement has clearly extended to indigenous ETA terrorists in the Basque separatist movement.
Since Mr. Zapatero took office--in reality, since the bombs went off--"we have seen the re-emergence of two Spains," says Hermann Tertsch, a senior correspondent at El Pais, a Socialist-leaning Madrid daily. "It's very, very tense," adds Mr. Tertsch, "close to real confrontation." Violent? "Anything can happen," he says, "anything." The post-Franco bipartisan "compact is destroyed," says Mr. Aznar. The danger: "Balkanization of the country," he says. "What need is there to do this?" Mr. Aznar asks in discussing his political opponent's policies. "Why--why risk everything, when things were going so well?"In one of Europe's most dynamic economies and successful new democracies, such talk can at first smack of exaggeration. But it's not only anti-Zapatero partisans voicing these anxieties, which ultimately reflect the serious damage that terrorism has done to Spain's confidence and its institutions. "The attacks showed that the idea that the Spanish transition had finished was wrong," says Eduardo Nolla, a political theorist.
In the Scotsman, Elizabeth Carr-Ellis notes that a Shattered Spain's scars won't heal, due in part because the "links between ETA and the bombings of March 11, or 11-M as they are known in Spain, have been present since the first explosion." Spain will be a country to watch closely with its population clearly divided. Splitting the Spaniards are the populist appeal of socialism and anti-American sentiment versus the belief that appeasing terrorists, foreign or domestic, risks the demise of a unified Spain into fracture and partition.
It is difficult to put a fix on just how much Spain risks internal turmoil. But should the division reach such heights, it is clear that al-Qaeda and the jihadiyun at war with the West could have asked for nothing more from a handful of Moroccan bombers and their home-made bombs.