January 4, 2012:
In the south, security forces chip away at the criminal infrastructure that supports the smugglers and Islamic terrorists. The smuggling has long been a major part of the economy and local culture. The government generally tolerated it as long as the gangsters were discreet. Radical Islam is something that was always just beneath the surface. In the last few decades, Islamic radicalism became fashionable and found material, if not moral, support from the smuggling gangs. That made the Islamic terrorists much more difficult to find and catch. The terrorists are being protected by the same loyalties and secrecy that has long protected the criminal gangs. But even some of the gangsters are getting tired of all the violence, and additional security forces, the Islamic terrorism has brought to the neighborhood.
In addition to making peace with Cambodia, the government has hustled of late to improve diplomatic and economic relations with the newly elected government of Burma. Although army officers still appear to be calling the shots in Burma, there is also some reform. Thailand hosts over 150,000 refugees from Myanmar (Burma) in Thailand, nearly all of them from tribes that have been fighting the Burmese government for centuries. But recently, the Burmese government has made peace deals with most of the tribes. The government is also developing military links with India, which is part of the movement by China's neighbors to create an alliance that can limit any possible Chinese aggression. The growth of Chinese military power and claims on neighboring territory has made all this coalition building popular.
The days before and after New Years Day are occasions for lots of celebrations. This involves a lot of driving and drinking. Therefore much of the army was assigned to monitor traffic and try to catch drunk drivers before they killed someone. About half of the 300 people killed during these holidays are the result of drinking. Some ten times as many people are injured. This is a problem even in the Moslem south, where Islamic conservatives discourage the use of alcohol.
January 1, 2012: In the south, two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb.
December 30, 2011: In the south, several attacks (using bombs, grenades, and gunfire) left seven troops wounded and one local security volunteer shot dead by terrorists.
December 21, 2011: Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to withdraw troops from the border after the International Court of Justice establishes where the border actually is. No date was given for when the withdrawal was to take place because the international courts tend to take a while to complete their work.