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Thailand: Follow The Money
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March 1, 2010: The risk of civil war continues. The Royalists (Yellow Shirts), who are in power (via a coup in 2006, followed by tainted elections) are trying to capture Populist (Red Shirt) leader, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The royalists and urban elites believe that the capture, trial and imprisonment of Shinawatra might break the will of the populists, or convince Shinawatra to switch sides. The latest move was to have the courts seize half of Shinawatra's fortune ($1.4 billion) as a fine for being corrupt. This was an unpopular move, since nearly all Thai politicians are corrupt, and people wonder who is going to get the $1.4 billion. The Red Shirts threaten violence over the seizure, although Shinawatra, from exile in Dubai, urges calm and only non-violent demonstrations. Many Royalists believe that Shinawatra was financing the populist violence with this money. Meanwhile, the Red Shirts are getting angrier, and more violent. The armed forces promises to keep the peace, but many of the troops are populists, and not keen on fighting Red Shirt demonstrators.

February 27, 2010: In the capital, a bomb (apparently a grenade) went off outside a bank, and another was disarmed elsewhere in the city. There were no casualties, and these attacks were believed connected with the seizure of former prime ministers Shinawatra's money.

February 26, 2010: The Supreme Court seized half of Shinawatra's fortune ($1.4 billion) as a fine for being corrupt. The seized money was, according to the court, obtained by corrupt practices after Shinawatra became prime minister in 2001. Populists (who are the majority of the population) consider this hypocrisy.

February 21, 2010: In the south, a Moslem village leader escaped injury when two men in a passing truck fired three shots. Islamic terrorists now devote most of their violence against Moslems, who are increasingly cooperating with the security forces.

February 18, 2010: In the south, police tried to arrest an Islamic terrorist leader (Huzaifah Hayisamo of RKK), but a gun battle broke out, and Hayisamo was killed. Over the last year, the number of Islamic terrorists identified, captured or killed has been increasing. The number of terrorist incidents has been decreasing. But the military expects the Islamic terrorism to continue for several more years.

February 16, 2010: The government has ordered the army to stop buying (for about $30,000 each) GT200 bomb detectors. Scientific tests of the devices (similar to the equally ADE 651 sold to Iraq) showed that they were useless. But apparently much of the sales price is kicked back to military procurement officials, as the devices cost less than $10 to manufacture. Army procurement officers insist they are innocent.

February 15, 2010: In the last two days, four civilians have been killed in the south (two Buddhists and two Moslems.)

February 13, 2010: In the capital, a bomb was defused near the Supreme Court, and another went off near government offices.

February 10, 2010: The five man crew of an Il-76 air transport seized last December (for smuggling North Korean weapons to Iran) were ordered freed. The government did this in order not to get dragged into the international effort to eradicate Iranian and North Korean arms smuggling.

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