The security forces are at odds over how to deal with the Islamic radical rebellion in the south. The generals closest to the fighting are against trying to negotiate with the rebels. The generals, and many politicians, back in the capital favor negotiations. The problem here is, there really isn't anyone to negotiate with. There are Moslem political organizations in the south, but they do not represent the rebels. The generals directing the counter-terror operations believe that there are up to 10,000 active Islamic radicals in the south (out of a population of two million, that is 85 percent Moslem), and about 2,000 of them are armed. There are many factions. These rebels have been confined to about 200 villages, largely in remote areas. But the Islamic terrorists can still get around. There are 30,000 soldiers, 18,000 police and 40,000 armed volunteers working against the Islamic terrorists, and the generals believe that they are grinding the enemy down. The violence, which has killed about 4,000 people in the last six years, has turned most of the local Moslems against the terrorists.
Worst of all, the terrorists are not united. They are a collection of Islamic radical groups, who were spawned by dozens of religious schools (which taught a conservative, "hate-the-non-Moslem" line) and sustained by the many criminal gangs in the south, as a way to keep the police away from lucrative smuggling and drug operations. The army is asking for satellite and intelligence help from the United States, similar to what is provided to the Philippines. The form of assistance would make it easier to find the remote hideouts the terrorists are operating from. Currently, the government is depending on tips (from locals) and labor intensive searches of remote areas, to find the terrorists (who live off supplies taken from villages in these areas). There has been no response from the U.S. yet. The Thai military continues to expand its armed volunteer program in the south, which makes more areas armed and hostile to the terrorists.
The government is carrying out a major crackdown on corruption in the national police. The corruption involved procurement, as well as promotions. The current government justifies its anti-democratic methods by taking the high ground when it comes to corruption. The last honest election produced a prime minister (Thaksin Shinawatra) that the royalists and urban elites did not like. So they staged a coup, and used corruption as the main excuse. So the fight against corruption has to continue. Not a bad thing, but it does stir up a lot of anger in the government bureaucracy.
The armed stalemate with Cambodia, over who shall control what territory around a 1300 year old temple on the border, continues. It's a minor issue that has been taken up by the media in both nations, and threatens to escalate into a small war.
November 18, 2009: Down south, police received a tip about a terrorist safe house. Raiding the place, the terrorists attempted to shoot their way out. Six terrorists were killed, while three policemen were wounded.
November 15, 2009: A small bomb was thrown into a Yellow Shirt (anti-democracy, pro-government) rally. Over 10,000 Yellow Shirts had peacefully assembled, and the bomb wounded twelve people. Police increased their presence the next day, in case there was street violence.